Global citizenship is a phrase that is commonly used to convey ideals of multiculturalism, world belonging, and sustainability of our planet. But what does it actually mean?
The United Nations describes global citizenship as the “belief that individuals are members of multiple, diverse, local and non-local networks rather than single actors affecting isolated societies.” Considering how most of us are inherent members of multiple networks in today’s universal society, it raises the question if global citizenship is merely intrinsic or grounded in learned principles. First Trip holds true that global citizenship is transformational in nature and is initiated once we leave our comfort zones and challenge our preconceived notions about others through intercultural engagement (study abroad) and self-reflection.
But why is it necessary to view the world through a more global lens rather than as a member of one particular nation or society? Here’s what some of our scholars had to say about global citizenship after traveling abroad for the first time.
“Global citizenship is important because it allows one to see others in similar humanity... it encourages openness to interacting favorably with people of different ages, races, and cultures and the capacity to spot and dispel misconceptions. It also has to do with how we respect everyone's human rights while fairly using and distributing the planet's resources.”
Kiara Simmons, First Trip Scholar 2023 (Uganda/Rwanda)
“I believe world travelers have no other choice but to become global citizens. We become observers of humanity and cannot come close to understanding it if we are beholden to a particular nation-state.”
Keshawn Young, First Trip Scholar 2022 (South Africa)
“Global citizenship is important because it deepens one’s awareness of issues taking place in other parts of the world such as human rights, gender equality and equity, environmental changes, poverty, and more… global citizenship helps to build a greater sense of understanding and respect for others regardless of where they live in the world.”
Janai Williams, First Trip Scholar 2022 (Mexico)
“Global citizenship allows people to develop empathy for others through shared experiences, and therefore makes them keener to contribute to humanity by practicing principles of care.”
Daina Aguas, First Trip Scholar 2021 (Costa Rica)
“I know that global citizenship is needed to help us grow as students and individuals. Traveling to Beijing forced me to reflect upon my own experiences as an American citizen and the restrictive societal nature of people living in China.”
Michaela Bramwell, First Trip Scholar 2019 (China)
Promoting global citizenship through study abroad, mentoring, and career mapping
For our team at First Trip, promoting global citizenship is all about encouraging college students, especially those from underrepresented groups, to develop the international experiences, global knowledge, skills, and values they will need to engage with and within international communities. It is also about ensuring that these students have what it takes to become the next generation of global thinkers and foreign policy makers.