This past winter semester I was fortunate enough to take an International Studies class that concentrated on the essential elements and important aspects of global citizenship and what exactly it means in today’s society to be considered a global citizen. As I began the course, I had a limited understanding of global citizenship and struggled to understand why this term was approached with such importance as to have an entire class dedicated to it. However, as COVID-19 swept its way across the world, into Canada, and eventually into my province of Saskatchewan, I truly began to understand not only the need for global citizenship during a pandemic, but the undeniable benefits of people taking on an identity as important as global citizen.
Global citizenship has become an increasingly popular term with the rise of globalization, interconnectedness, and digital awareness. Global citizenship is essentially the idea that we all have a responsibility and a role to be aware of and help other people regardless of political or geographical borders. It is the acknowledgement of our shared humanity with one another and the responsibilities that come along with that acknowledgement, such as caring for those across the globe, advocating for their rights, and educating oneself on world issues. As Oxfam explains, “A global citizen is someone who is aware of and understands the wider world – and their place in it. They take an active role in their community, and work with others to make our planet more equal, fair and sustainable”. A role such as this is important at all times but becomes even more necessary in times of global crisis and economic uncertainty.
Despite the select positives of a surge in global connectedness as a result of the global pandemic, such a ‘realization’ of a need for countries to help one another is often born out of privilege, and my experience is no different. At 21 years old, this pandemic is my first real experience of a global catastrophe that has affected my life on a personal level. However, other individuals are not as fortunate as I and experience hardships far worse on a daily basis. While I sit at home comfortably writing this article, with a fridge full of food, clean water in my taps, and the ability to take university classes online, I realize that not everyone has the same opportunities and privileges that I do. There are people, both in Canada and across the globe, that do not have access to the things that I take for granted on a daily basis. This is where global citizenship comes into play. As global citizens, we have the power to create change and it is important that we acknowledge the privileges that we may have to help those that we can. Whether it is donating money, time, or spreading awareness about injustices in our personal life or on social media, it is all important.
Global citizenship has always been necessary but its importance has only grown with the rise of COVID-19. Vulnerable people have become more vulnerable and people are experiencing even greater hardships and stress. It is times such as these, times of common solidarity and togetherness, that the need for global citizenship is amplified and we are reminded of our shared humanity with those around the world, despite borders and time zones. It is with this refreshed understanding of our own role in the world and with a re-imagined identity as a global citizen that we can begin to lift up fellow global citizens. As such, I will be reflecting on my own life and looking at what areas I can improve upon to become a conscious global citizen, and it is my hope that others will do the same, so that we can one day live in a world that is far more just, equal, and sustainable than the world we live in today. Lastly, as a global citizen, it is essential to remember that, no matter how big or small, we are all capable of making a difference in the world.
Oxfam. “What is Global Citizenship”. Oxfam Education, https://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/who-we-are/what-is-global-citizenship