Written by Russ Gadzhiev, PhD
“I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another’s differences in a way that is redemptive, full of hope and possibility.” – Bell Hooks
“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it.” – Andrew Boyd
“I am often asked what can people do to become global citizens? I reply that all that begins in your own community.” – Kofi Annan
In our Shiminly blog, we are frequently discussing the concept of global citizenship and its importance in the world that we are living in. But have you ever wondered whether you are a global citizen? In this short article, we are going to list the ten most important characteristics that any global citizen should have. If you see that you possess some of these characteristics (in this article we have outlined only some of them), this is a good sign – it means that you are already on the right track to becoming a global citizen.
So, what are the main characteristics of global citizens?
First and foremost, the most telling sign that you are a global citizen is the fact that you willingly accept the responsibilities that come with the status of a global citizen. Indeed, being a global citizen is not just about travelling around the world and having fun along the way. There is much more to that. Being a global citizen certainly implies having certain responsibilities. Global citizens realize that while their global citizenship is a privilege, it is also a great responsibility.
Global citizens do not shy away from active participation in the life of their community. They identify problems that exist in their communities and try to make positive contributions to their resolution. They are aware that their actions can shape the world in many ways.
Global citizens like to think big, and they are not afraid to think big.
When global citizens see a problem, they don’t passively look at it or wait until others will come along and resolve this problem. Instead, they act. They come with solutions. Their brain starts working and looking for ways to resolve the problems. Of course, it doesn’t mean that global citizens have an answer to every question or that they have a solution to every problem. But they can make sense of these problems, draw attention to them and inspire others to take action too.
Global citizens do not care much about possessions and the material aspect of life.
Although it may sound a little cliché, but you don’t need money to buy happiness. You don’t need money to get amazing experiences. Most of them are free and accessible to almost anyone. Global citizens do not usually feel the need to buy the newest version of popular gadget or fashionable clothes. These things simply do not appeal to them as much as the experiences when they get, for example, travelling.
They understand that life is a journey, and the point of life is not to accumulate possessions and unnecessary things. Instead, life is about fulfilling and enriching experiences, new acquaintances and helping others. Global citizens are thrilled by discovering new things and they try to invest their resources in new experiences.
Global citizens are life-long learners.
They are always curious, and their curiosity is almost never-ending. If you are curious about different countries and other cultures, then there must be something of a global citizen in you! Global citizens do not waste their time scrolling social media or watching TV. They always try to be productive and to be learning something new. They appreciate knowledge about other countries and cultures because they understand that it is this very knowledge that will make their life full of new, positive events and experiences.
Global citizens are extremely open-minded people.
Indeed, the benefits of being an open-minded person are numerous. Not only are you able to be empathetic and compassionate towards people around you (which will help you build strong and lasting relationships with people around you), but it also stimulates your interest towards the world around you. Being open-minded allows them to understand the positions and viewpoints of others. Things make much more sense.
Global citizens can understand what is going on now in the world. They easily navigate through the informational chaos that the world now finds itself in. Importantly, they are not afraid to make mistakes. Likewise, they are not afraid to be wrong. They don’t get angry when someone argues with them or tries to disprove their point of view. Instead of arguing and becoming angry, open-minded people – global citizens – eagerly listen because they are genuinely curious about what their opponents are saying. They believe that everyone has the right to be heard and the more we allow people to express their points of view, the better this world is going to be.
Global citizens are fond of working with others.
They thrive around other people and realize the importance of teamwork. Global citizens do not discriminate against people because of their skin colour, language, or age. They believe that these superficial things are irrelevant and that anybody is talented in their own way and therefore able to make a positive contribution.
They appreciate different ages, backgrounds, and experiences. They know that these things will bring more ideas to the table and encourage and foster innovative thinking and approaches. They understand that every human can make a difference and should not be excluded. However, while global citizens like to work with others, they also like to take responsibility for their own actions.
Global citizens usually speak at least one other or multiple languages.
It goes without saying that English remains the most popular language when it comes to communication in today’s globalized world. However, the dominance of English is being challenged by other languages which are also widely spoken in the world.
Since at the core of global citizenship stands the idea of diversity, it comes as little surprise that global citizens are not content only with speaking English and start learning other languages. Moreover, realizing that any language carries a certain cultural code and is basically a reflection of people’s culture, global citizens use languages as a means of exploring these cultures. For them, languages are not only a means of communication but an important tool for entering hitherto unknown cultural territories.
And indeed, if you think about it – there are so many other countries and languages that are being overlooked.
Global citizens are aware of the vulnerability of the environment and are trying to do something about it.
They work hard to raise people’s awareness about the importance of using less plastic and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. They are passionate about these issues. They understand that if the environmental problems are not acknowledged and steps to resolve them are not taken, future generations will have to pay a high price for that.
Most importantly, global citizens are trying to change the world starting from themselves. They make a conscious effort to reduce the use of plastic, they are trying to use public transport instead of driving their own cars, and they do their best to do many other things as well. They take part in various volunteering initiatives.
In this article, we have demonstrated that being a global citizen means much more than just having multiple stamps in your passport or travelling around the world. If you possess any of the characteristics, that means that becoming a global citizen is not going to be something entirely difficult for you. On the contrary, it means that you are naturally predisposed to becoming a global citizen and that you should try your best to embrace other things that they do.
Being a global citizen is fun, but at the same time, it entails a variety of responsibilities. Being a global citizen is challenging, but at the same time, it is very exciting. If you are curious about what else you can do to become a global citizen, check out the articles in our Shiminly blog and you will find a lot of useful tips and strategies.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.