By Ana Cordera
Being a global citizen is essential to tackling today’s global issues. By becoming knowledgeable in current world affairs, we begin to think and act differently – in a productive, enthusiastic and positive approach. If you’re not entirely sure whether to consider yourself a global citizen or what it takes to become one, we offer five suggestions to help lead you into the right direction. Start the New Year by aiming to become an informed citizen of the world.
1. Become Aware
First of all, it's important to know what's going on. Read the newspaper. Watch the news. Research issues that interest you. In order to develop a comprehensive opinion on a matter, you need to understand the facts first. After forming an opinion, creating a solution becomes easier. Be aware of your community and the problems that affect it. Become educated in what’s going on in the Middle East or learn more about discussions of race on college campuses. A characteristic of a global citizen is being conscious of the world and of what is happening in it. How can you generate a solution to a problem, if you’re not aware of the problem or if you have false information?
2. Be Open-Minded
You may think that the only way to have an impact is by trying to solve an issue that affects thousands of people, but what about a problem that affects only a few within your own community? Creating a solution for even a handful of people is still impacting the world. Be open to looking at small and large-scale current affairs. Be open to other people and their opinions and ideas as well. A global citizen is aware of those different ideas and isn’t afraid of collaborating or challenging them.
3. Challenge Ideas
That said; don’t be afraid to challenge existing thoughts. If your opinion isn’t the same as someone else’s, say it and explain why. It’s okay to think differently and to have varying outlooks as to how a problem should be addressed or resolved. The point of challenging ideas is not creating division, but rather collaboration. Challenge ideas with concrete data and evidence, have an open-mind but be welcoming of cooperation. Challenging someone’s opinion can even help that person develop a better argument. A global citizen is open to others’ thoughts, but isn’t afraid of questioning them.
4. Start Conversation
Start a conversation with your friends, family or fellow students. Whether it’s about the presidential race or the refugee crisis, it’s important to initiate and foster conversation about an issue. It can make someone aware of a problem that wasn’t aware before or it can bring new perspective to the table. Not only does a conversation bring awareness to an issue, but it also serves as an approach to coming up with a solution. A global citizen is not only informed him/herself, but also seeks to educate others. Having a network of informed, opinionated people promotes an environment where ideas and solutions are welcomed.
5. Initiate Change
Lastly, a global citizen seeks to improve the world. They don't just talk about the problems going on in the world; they take initiative in trying to solve them. If all you do is talk about the problem, but never attempt to change it – what’s the point of even talking about it? Become proactive and take charge. Global citizens are those who engage in conversation and then take action.
If you want to develop your problem solving and leadership skills or if you want to connect with other global citizens who have the same desire to change the world, then apply to The Global Engagement Summit! Empower yourself and meet other people like you who wish to have an impact in this world. Applications are due January 15th.