For today’s blog post, my boyfriend Tom and I wanted to share some of the ways that you can become a global citizen. We understand that not everyone has the means to travel, and that is completely ok! There are so many different ways to become more culturally aware, and you do not need to have a ton of money to be able to learn about other people and cultures. You simply have to be respectful, open-minded, and willing to learn.
It is so important to understand that your own city/state/country is not the entire world. People all over the globe do things differently, and it’s not about doing things right or wrong. It can truly benefit us all to learn about these differences and even the similarities. By doing this, we can avoid egocentrism (the inability to understand others thoughts and ideas) and get out of our comfort zones.
Do your research
One of the simplest ways to become a global citizen is to do your research. If you find that you are curious or you have questions about a certain country or culture, don’t be afraid to look it up! There is so much information out there, whether that be in books, magazines, or the internet. If you have always been fascinated by the Inca Empire or Ancient Greece for example, you can find plenty of resources out there. There are a variety of educational articles and videos as well. If you are a student, you have most likely had to or will do some kind of research project or paper on a historical event or culture, and you can use these opportunities to expand your mind. What’s great about this is that when you learn something new, you can pass on the information to others. For example, I took a global communication class recently, and I was able to learn about different topics that interested me such as Buddhism and I learned about a popular festival in Zimbabwe: the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). Tom and I also decided to try participating in Nyepi, or Bali’s Day of Silence (except we did it on different days). It all starts with doing some research, and it truly doesn’t take too much effort due to the fact that this information is essentially right at our fingertips.
Participate in different cultural events in your area
While you may feel like you live in a city or town that is not very diverse, there are most likely still going to be different cultural events going on nearby. For example, in my town, there is never a lot going on, however if I were to drive about half an hour away to a larger city near me, there is always something to go and see. We highly encourage you to look into different museums (online or in person) and/or diverse groups and organizations in your area. By doing this, you can get to know real people who are different from you, yet living in or around the same area. If traveling is not an option for you, you can look around and get involved in your community. Maybe there is a festival relating to music, art, or food from around the world. Most of the time, these events are worth attending.
Learn a new language
There are plenty of ways to do this, however it can be time consuming and it takes a lot of hard work. You can use different apps or websites that make it easier to learn a new language (for example: Duolingo or Babbel). Also, if you are a student you can take advantage of the language courses that your school offers, and you can continue to progress from there. Learning a new language can be challenging, so of course, it’s best to start with basic topics (greetings, foods, places, etc.). You do not have to learn a new language if you are traveling to another country, however you should learn the basics so you can greet others and be respectful throughout your stay. It can be very beneficial to become multilingual, not only for travel but for work as well. It will also be much easier to communicate with people from other countries.
Show respect to others
Showing respect to others looks like understanding differences through unconditional open-mindedness. This is an important, proactive approach to always practice, including for travel. It is beneficial to walk into situations and amongst people with zero preconceptions, to enable ourselves to learn from the ground-up, just what makes other people tick. It’s a dangerous thing to follow the judgmental opinions from some others about different people, like those living in different countries or those partaking in different cultures.
If you decide to travel somewhere new, it is always best to look into the different laws and cultural norms so that you avoid upsetting others. There are some things however, that can only be learned during your travels, and often times, the events that are unplanned can end up being the most memorable and even educational. Showing respect to those around you should always be a priority. It is important to take an interest and overall to be kind to those around you, no matter what. Love and respect can transcend borders, and at the end of the day, we should celebrate the different people, places, and cultures in the world around us.
And of course…
There is something so incredibly eye-opening about immersing yourself into a new culture. You’re able to learn about different celebrations, important days, unique foods, and all of the cultural norms. I have been lucky enough to travel throughout my life, and with each trip, I learned something new. Through my university, I was also able to study abroad in France for a week, which was a dream come true! During my travels, I recognized not only the differences from my own culture/country, but the similarities as well, which are also important. By seeking out the similarities, it can bring us a sense of comfort and we are able to relate to others this way.
A great way to work towards world citizenship whilst travelling is to be intentional in meeting local people and spending time with them, learning first hand about their background and lifestyle. From personal experience, engaging in simple conversations and showing genuine curiosity is a prudent path to earning respect for both parties. Provided that language itself isn’t a barrier, so much valuable information can be learned from verbal interaction, but willingness and a warm smile can go a long way too!
Stepping into an unusual culture scene may seem daunting at first, but as this is undertaken more and more, feelings of anxiety should subside and the ability to adapt confidently will strengthen through experience. Encountering a different interpretation of the arts is something likely to be witnessed, with unique expressions of music, dance and other physical creativity. Provided the activities have good harmless intentions, it shows acceptance and respect to join in. It’ll be a guaranteed mind-opening experience and you’re sure to have fun too!
Once again, we understand that not everyone has the means to travel, which is perfectly fine! If the opportunity ever arises for you, we highly encourage you to travel and take full advantage of the new experiences!
We definitely recommend doing all that you can to explore the world around you, to educate yourself on other cultures, and to find the courage and confidence to truly experience something new, even if it is intimidating or it seems strange to you. Always remember to be kind, compassionate, understanding, and respectful toward others, even if they live their lives differently from you or they don’t look like you.
Tom and I live in two different countries, England and the United States, so we have been able to learn more about each other’s cultures and the ways that we live our everyday lives. We often discuss some popular meals, places, and events in our areas, and we even like to joke around with each other about the different words we use for the same objects. We have hopes to travel together in the future, and due to our long-distance relationship, we will be traveling to see each other very soon!
We hope that you found this blog post inspiring and helpful! By following these tips, you are on the right track to becoming a citizen of the world! Thank you for reading! – Amanda Sacchere & Tom Patch