During my undergraduate experience I have been extremely fortunate in having the opportunity to travel abroad. Coming from a working-class background, from a single-parent household, in an area stricken with poverty, I never imagined I would be in the position to see a glimpse of this vast world.
Reflecting upon my past perspectives of the social world compared to my current perspectives, I have come to the realization that our lived experiences truly limit how we view different cultures, social problems, and even exposure to history. When faced with this epiphany I began to think about the numerous cross-cultural commonalities I had discovered abroad. For example, while studying abroad in Salvador, Brazil, I learned that racism functions very similarly in comparison to the United States. Understanding my personal experiences with race and being able to directly compare such with the locals of Salvador was astounding. Through this same trip I was introduced to the concept of global citizenship. To be a global citizen is to be an individual who actively takes responsibility in increasing your awareness of the wider world, your positionality amongst it, and upholding civic responsibility to make the world a better place.
Although a global citizen may have ties to a nation, nationalism never overshadows their beliefs that the world’s inhabitants are interconnected. Learning what global citizenship was, I immediately adopted the principles and have applied them to my own life. Specifically, I think global citizenship can be instrumental in bridging the gap across cultures that are a part of the African diaspora. With understanding that many of the empires that are present today are a result of the exploitation of African descendants is troubling. What’s even more troubling is the general inability to connect cross-culturally with diasporic groups. Language barriers, ethnocentrism, and distance are amongst the many factors that tend to contribute to this disconnect. However, imagine the erasure of those factors. Would the social problems that are often common amongst diasporic groups be met with solutions? Would a shared-identity be adopted globally?
Could generations of the future create stronger political and economic ties across nations? Would the notion of inclusion garner more value than the value of exclusion? I do believe that if more individuals took time and effort to realize that more often than not, we are interconnected, and that there is value in principles like global citizenship, then this world may truly become a better place.