My study abroad group at Walhalla in Germany.
When I was little, my dad used to say the world was a big place that was only getting smaller. I believed him at the time like any other young child would, and the stories my father told about when he was in the US Navy, traveling the globe and taking in everything he could, made it really sound like all the places he visited were only a drive away.
It turns out the world isn’t so close in terms of distance, but maybe there is a bit of truth to what Dad said about the world getting smaller. In this age of technology, it’s easy to get on a phone and check what’s going on halfway around the planet. There is communication like never before, and the ability to send photos, videos, and information at the speed of the internet or mobile connection is more impressive than we give it credit for.
Someone recently brought up the idea of global citizenship to me, and at first I wasn’t particularly intrigued, but the more I knew about it the more it seemed to apply to this shrinking world of ours. After looking into it, I found that global citizenship is all-encompassing. It’s about crossing cultural barriers and being a part of a worldwide community which connects all people together. It’s also about acknowledging the fact that there are certain values and practices that should apply to all world peoples, which includes political, religious, social, and economic aspects.
The idea of belonging to a worldwide community and practicing global citizenship isn’t about making the world a utopia. That’s unrealistic, but global citizens are still concerned for what is going on in the planet as a whole, and they help work towards certain goals that have been advocated for in the last one hundred years. These include human rights, gender equality, relief of poverty, preservation of cultural diversity, and many other ideals.
Reaching these goals isn’t going to be short-term, especially on a worldwide scale. It’ll take years at minimum, and the scale of collaboration necessary to come to such an ideal state will be massive, requiring global citizens to come together and work as a unit to better the community they’re a part of. It might seem a bit unrealistic and out of reach at this point, but part of being a global citizen is understanding that even these large goals can be managed a bit at a time.
I can’t really wrap my mind about the physical size of the earth, but I know it’s big. It seems a feat to be able to connect with other people so far away in an instant like with social media, but it’s helping more people be aware of what it means to be a global citizen, even if they’re unaware of the term. Strides have been made towards the ideals laid out as goals of global citizenship, and with everyone being more connected, I think those goals will be achieved even sooner.
Sarah Warren is a junior at the University of Kentucky majoring in German.