How to be a Global Citizen

Dumelang!

Welcome to 2017. Eish.

This year I am taking part in Blogging Abroad's 2017 New Years Blog Challenge: 10 blog posts in 10 weeks, about living and blogging abroad. I might also post personal blogs during that time (cause I just got back from some awesome trips), but I'll let you know which are which. I'm excited to take part in this challenge, explore some new topics, and grow my online blog community!

Let's do this...

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A Global Citizen recognizes that all actions have consequences, and not just for ourselves or our community, but for the world. 

People today are connected and interdependent in ways that our forefathers could never have imagined. In the past, issues affecting other parts of the world seemed as distant as the issues affecting soap opera stars, but today, people live tweet from Syrian refugee camps and the impact of the US presidential election is felt far outside the US. And my 30-second appearance on Impractical Jokers shows up on South African TV...

Whether we like it or not, staying in our "bubble" is no longer an option. Ignorance may be bliss, but in today's world, it's also dangerous.

A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link and the world is only as strong as it's weakest country. In order to ensure our survival, we need to ensure the survival of everyone else. As my favorite granny once said, "If America sneezes, the whole world gets sick".

With that in mind, here are my tips on how to be a Global Citizen:
  1. Stay informed. Know what's going on in the world. I don't care if you get your news from CNN, Fox, or your Twitter feed, just soak it all in (but make sure to fact check because as amazing as it is that anyone can contribute to the dialogue - not everyone cares about the truth).
     
  2. Travel. See the world outside of your bubble. With social media on the rise, your neighbor is no longer just the person who lives across the street; your neighbor is the person tweeting from across the pond. Everyone knows that the Holocaust was an awful atrocity, but traveling to Germany and visiting a concentration camp brings the Holocaust out of a textbook and into the real world. Sometimes its easy to ignore world issues when we aren't experiencing them first hand.
     
  3. Live Abroad. Travel is amazing (obviously, I put it as number 2 on my list) but living abroad is even better. Living in South Africa for two years has taught me more about this country and culture than a vacation ever could. South Africans are no longer just people from South Africa, but my friends, family, and community members. As a resident, I'm privy to information and experiences no tourist could ever get.
     
  4. Leave your comfort zone. You don't have to travel or live abroad to experience other cultures. Take an Italian cooking class at your community center; learn to salsa dance; pick up a new language; listen to The Soil (and get hooked on South African music). The possibilities are endless.
     
  5. Talk. To anyone and everyone, but especially to people who aren't like you. I grew up in the midst of the "War on Terror" aka the Iraq War. As I got older, I realized that everything I knew about the war came from other people just like me: white Americans thousands of miles from the battlefield with little vested interest in the Middle East. It wasn't until I spoke to a guy who was growing up in Iraq at the same time that I was growing up in America that my eyes truly opened. He didn't necessarily contradict everything I had heard about the war, he just offered a new, invaluable perspective.
     
  6. Be aware that your actions effect the world. This is by far the most important. If you don't think one small thing can change the world, try locking yourself in a room with mosquito... you'll quickly realize that small things can have a big impact. This means that you have the power to affect the world in a positive or negative way. But being aware of this is just the first step. Next, turn that awareness into action. Only eat sustainable seafood, buy conflict free minerals, drink fair trade coffee, don't take part in the exotic animal trade, etc.
We are all citizens of the world, now choose to be a Global Citizen.

Eating South African food the South African way - with my hands!

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This post is part of Blogging Abroad's 2017 New Years Blog Challenge, week one: Global Citizenship.


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