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How to raise global citizens in today’s world

By Yetty Wiliams, Founder LagosMums
28 September 2019   |   2:25 am
We live in a very connected world, thanks to the Internet. Today’s modern parents are essentially raising global citizens. Global citizenship is the idea that everyone is part of a worldwide community.

We live in a very connected world, thanks to the Internet. Today’s modern parents are essentially raising global citizens. Global citizenship is the idea that everyone is part of a worldwide community.

Experts believe that a child’s cultural attitudes are set by age 9. That’s why it is so important to teach children to be good global citizens. In reality, we are all raising global citizens whether intentionally or not.

Part of being a global citizen is to have Cultural Competence. This is defined as the ability of individuals to work or respond effectively across cultures in a way that acknowledges and respects the culture of another.

The Importance of Heritage
The first step to understanding other cultures is for children to understand their own heritage and have a sense of pride in knowing where they are from. Share stories about your culture, teach them their local language, let them hear stories about your childhood, and hear from their grandparents and older relatives.

Having a deep sense of your roots builds a sense of belonging and can open up global opportunities. For example, we see indigenous language speakers joining the faculty at Harvard University to teach Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo. Closer to home, the brains behind the Nike Art Gallery, Nike Davies-Okundaye, is a renowned textile artist. She is known worldwide for showcasing her culture through paintings, Adire and more. In an excerpt of an interview, she shared the following: “I didn’t attend secondary school but today, I teach people abroad. I teach people with doctorate degrees. I teach in Har­vard, Canada, UK, and other African countries.” 

What Does It Mean To Be A Global Citizen?
It includes having empathy, accepting and celebrating differences. Believing that you are part of a global ecosystem and understanding that all our actions have an effect on each other. When we understand more about ourselves and have a healthy sense of belonging, it is easier to care about people in other parts of the world.

Building empathy
The desire to make a positive social impact is important to living a meaningful life. This can be as small or as big a cause as you want to make it. To build empathy, expose your child to world affairs by talking about global and local happenings. Building a positive disposition towards cultural differences can be achieved by discussing differences and the importance of tolerance.

There are good things we can learn from all cultures, and there are certain things that we would not agree with. It is important to teach that even where there are differences, you can still be respectful in sharing your opinions. This is especially important to note when it comes to the use of social media. People online can be overly harsh or critical. Teach them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and imagine how they would feel.

What does creativity have to do with being global citizens? It is important because there is no one way to do anything. The more we embrace that each and every one of us is unique and has a part to play, the more we will see various innovations. No two people are ever the same, and to make the world a better place, we truly need to have the room and space to be creative and collaborative. The digital age leads to an interconnectedness that allows collaborations that were impossible before the Internet. All this is definitely a strength if harnessed the right way.

Life-long learners
We all need to be life-long learners as things change at a lightning speed. One way to ensure that you stay relevant is to keep learning, being open to new trends and technological advancements.Life-long learning will ensure that we keep evolving and would help us to continue to differentiate ourselves as humans in the age of AI. In the world of Artificial Intelligence, the creative jobs are the ones that are protected. This is because AI can optimise but not create.

To be globally minded, you must be exposed. Our children must read and read widely, there are several books that encourage learning about other cultures. The more we and our children have a deeper understanding of the world, the more we will see positive changes. Exploring the world through travel and watching educational documentaries about travel is also very helpful. Lastly, learning a language is also a great way to learn about different places.

Are Global Citizens Born or Raised?
What makes someone strive to make the world a better place? Why are some people on the list of people impacting their world? Not because they have to, but because they want to?There are several examples of global citizens making positive impact on the world. Some of the answers when it comes to raising global citizens lie in parents encouraging their children to have a world-view.

Parental Influence
I love the story of Meghan Markle; as a young 11-year-old girl the stirrings of an advocate was born. She shared that in school she saw a commercial for a dishwashing liquid. The tagline was: “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans,” which bothered her tremendously.Once she got home and told her dad, he encouraged her to do something about it. She went on to write letters to people in positions of power; and these included the first lady at the time, Hillary Clinton and the soap manufacturers.She got responses from them and about a month later the commercial was changed from ‘Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans’ to “People all over America …’

Markle has shared that this moment was pivotal in helping her realise the magnitude of her actions and her small level of impact by standing up for equality. Perhaps this was the start of Megan Markle as a strong voice and advocate for women.Indeed, here we can see the influence a parent had on her, encouraging her to be bold and desire to make a change. You only learn you have a voice by trying to use it. You can start by encouraging your child to find a cause they believe in such as climate change or education.

Oprah is another positive example of a global citizen who is wealthy and also making a social impact on a global scale. There are several other local heroes; who might not be on the world stage but they are making a positive impact on their world.Being a global citizen is about having the heart to change the world for the better.

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