Students Discuss How Learning about GC Impacts Their Lives

Silvi pondering at Dune du Pilat in France. (Photo by DMG 2013)

During the last seven years, as members of the WVC Global Citizenship Committee have been involved in teaching Global Citizenship directly to their students, or in creating and participating in co-curricular activities, or in collaborating with colleagues who teach at other California community colleges and universities, they have asked hundreds of students to reflect on how learning about global citizenship has affected them. These members of the committee, and the colleagues with whom they collaborate–as well as their students–span the disciplines, including Sociology, English, Women and Gender Studies, Biology, Anthropology, Geology, Business Administration, English, World Languages, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Philosophy, Kinesiology, Administration of Justice and other professional programs, Economics, History, Political Science. Invariably, their students’ responses center on how learning about Global Citizenship allows them to better understand themselves and their place in the world.

Following are excerpts from the many written reflections composed by students.

  • I used to presume that global citizens are people who don’t want to be simply recognized as being from one country. I now understand that this identity means engaging in communities across countries.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship makes me think about how I am engaging in the world today. It helps me to see that issues including pollution and poverty are about the survival of human beings. I know that I will devote my life to helping people in need.
  • It seems hard for us to embrace Global Citizenship. Each country has its own problems. Should we just mind our own business before we talk about global issues? This is a moral chain around me. I can’t think of an answer now, but hopefully I will make it clear to myself someday.
  • Global Citizenship is the interaction that a person has with his community, society, and issues that are part of every day. My self-awareness has grown  since learning about Global Citizenship in this math class. Global Citizenship has affected me in a way that its got my attention. Now I look at issues throughout the globe and I see that I should take an interest in them and see what we can do to better the world.
  • I feel like there are certain attitudes that drive us away from knowing what happens “over there” and that push us to instead focus on what’s important to us. But why shouldn’t we worry about others? We are all part of the same world and need to learn what we can do to better “them” and “us” at the same time. We all should have some teaching about what it means to be a global citizen.
  • The commonalities between what happens at home and “over there” become visible when we are educated and aware of what’s going on. The characteristics that human beings share are balanced against the differences. On a practical level, Global Citizenship can create bridges. Global Citizenship helps to resolve disagreements because it emphasizes that all of us should be invested in caring for one another. Global Citizenship has opened my eyes to be a defender and to find out what I can do to help others.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship has helped me. I’m not going to say that I am a pro at the information, but that doesn’t mean I should be less involved. A global citizen is someone who identifies with being a part of a world community, and whose actions contribute to building that community’s values and practices. If I am to become a global citizen, I have to invest in learning about the rest of the world. All people have the ability to think and act as global citizens, and at the same time to also think and act as locals in their own corners of the world. People everywhere need opportunities to participate in developing solutions to the growing number of problems challenging the world community. This realization came to me as I learned about Global Citizenship.
  • To become a global citizen, you need to take a few steps. Every step you take will affect you. First, you have to recognize that there is a global part in who you are. After that, you have to expand your definition of community. Then, you have to discover the different values held by communities in the world. And you have to choose if you’ll participate and advocate for those values. Learning this has affected my life.
  • After finishing this Sociology course, I know a lot more about how our reality is constructed socially. That has really opened my eyes. And when I open my eyes, I see abundant inequality across societies. Learning about Global Citizenship has taught me that there are a lot of factors to consider before judging a lifestyle. Different cultures view certain actions differently, have different belief systems and place different values and customs upon symbols. Becoming a Global Citizen taught me that it is important to be conscious of our own lifestyle, and of how our actions affect the entire population of the globe. Many of the things we benefit from come at another people’s cost.
  • Personally, I started to reconsider some of my beliefs and attitudes towards racism, classism, and sexism, and also to be more aware of these types of discrimination, not just institutionally but also socially and on a personal scale. Many of the people I encounter often determine their views about others based on their race or appearance, and some of my male friends treat women differently than they treat me as a male friend. There are a lot of social control mechanisms that are still being perpetrated in our society by both the older generation and the new. Discrimination against immigrants continues today, even though the majority of those immigrants want to do nothing but seek a better life for their families. In the end, I have learned that our society is structured in an uneven playing field because of racist, sexist, and classist attitudes, and that holds people back.

Dune du Pilat, France
(Photo by DMG 2013)

  • In a world that seems to be perpetually at war, the idea of Global Citizenship initially made me scoff a little. Upon further examination, however, I realized that scoff also came from a part of me that resents the opportunities more privileged people get to explore the world for pleasure. That kind of skepticism, although necessary and appropriate at times, can be limiting because it closes me off from being responsible for the rights of other human beings. After reading “Global Citizenship – What Are We Talking About and Why Does It Matter?” by Madeleine Green, I realized that I have the opportunity to be a global citizen each day. The demands of life are great, but they are never too great for me to show exemplary citizenship in my daily activities. I can’t just go through the motions in life as if I was sleepwalking. I attend a college that is filled with a diverse population of students with different cultures and languages who are often happy to chat about their native countries. There’s a study abroad program, and I can talk with people just to get to know my own community. After reading the article, I realized that I can become a more useful and kind global citizen when I approach a situation with humility, curiosity, and the desire to problem solve. I have to work to help offer solutions for implementing social change at home and internationally.
  • In my daily life, I realize that I am an active Global Citizen. I’m blessed with the opportunity to tutor ESL students in English, which allows me the chance to learn about their culture and life experiences. One six-year-old I work with wanted to abandon Mandarin and stories of China in exchange for a completely American experience. I realize how important it is to encourage him to understand his native country and share his knowledge with others. Usually, I’m very interested in language, food, and trying to understand what another country is like. Twice a week, I volunteer in a horse stable where we bring disadvantaged youth from diverse backgrounds. They  get the chance to learn about horses. (I, too, have never been able to afford a horse, so I volunteer). It has also always been a dream of mine to become a nurse and to travel to a country I’m unfamiliar with to deliver medical aid. Through learning about Global Citizenship I have learned to be a more responsible consumer who values people more than the things they manufacture.
  • Understanding “Global Citizenship” has changed my perspective about environmental issues. I see that citizens should focus on them. We all are living in the same earth, and we share limited resources. We have a responsibility to save the earth for one another. We cannot just simply use or damage natural resources, no matter where they are, because that makes us really selfish and someday we will be affected too. We have to live green. This includes using our natural resources more thoughtfully, saving our water, and preventing the use of disposable materials such as plastic bags. That is our responsibility as Global Citizens.We need to protect each other and the remaining resources we have so that other generations can live peacefully on earth. That is our moral responsibility.
  • Now that I know that I am a Global Citizen, I have gotten more concerned about the health of all people in the world. Serious or uncontrollable health problems, diseases, and disorders–even if it’s just obesity–are on my radar now. I worry more about these situations, because I know that other people and I live in the same small place–the globe. We can’t leave the globe. We are stuck with each other and with this earth. Therefore, other people and I need to be responsible and to “take care” of ourselves and the earth. In this Biology class I have just realized that we are closely related or connected to each other, and that others’ problems may affect me as well. Infectious diseases, for example, may be transmitted across continents. When the fatal disease SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, was originally identified in Singapore I felt no concern towards that. However, after it spread from Singapore to the whole world including Hong Kong, which was extremely critical due to the dense population there, I realized that the whole world is really closely connected and that citizens can affect each other. As a result, I realized that I have to be more concerned and that each of us has responsibility for all of us. Being a Global Citizen is about self-preservation. Knowing this now, I will pay more attention to health problems, and I will make a career in order to prevent infections which may be fatal.
  • Like Gandhi once said, “be the change that you want to see in the world.” I’ve always believed that if you want change, you need to start from within. If you want something done, you need to start with yourself. I like the idea of social change that transcends political borders, geographical locations, and religious beliefs. If every single person does his party to make social changes, all humanity will benefit, and the world will be a much better place. And that’s what being a Global Citizen is all about. Being part of humanity. The whole idea is quite noble and utopist, and it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. We all have a responsibility to take care of the world and each other; it’s our birthright of being part of the human race.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship did not really affect me, for I’ve always believed that we all have a role to play towards making all societies better. However, learning about Global Citizenship gave me a broader perspective on things, and in removing my blinders and helping me to see the world in a broader perspective. I know now that affecting change and working together should transcend borders and differences, for we are all part of this big entity encompassing all living creatures. And I know that each and everyone’s actions affect others and the generations after us. We must be united despite our differences. We must have the common goal of improving everyone’s life.
  • Global citizenship is a very controversial topic in today’s society. It is argued for and against by many individuals. The concept itself cannot be concretely defined, as its definition changes depending on one’s perspective. However the general consensus is something along the lines of belonging to the “global community” rather than their identity as a citizen of a particular nation/place. The practice of global citizenship also contains many features, such as cultural empathy and awareness to others. These features allow the users to internalize themselves with the world, erasing all previous means of segregation through bridges of multicultural education. It emphasizes why internalization is a means and not an end. It allows one to consider their actions and what role they play in their community—in this case the entire world. The commonalities between what happens at home and what happens “over there” become visible, and it makes us realize we are not so different after all.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship exposed me to a concept I had never imagined before. Living in a world where we could come together to solve problems, a world where we could empathize with each other’s cultures, seems like fantasy. But that’s a fantasy that I really like. The concept could be real. The concept sheds light on what could potentially be, and on how we as a whole could strive to educate ourselves and to work hard so that the next generations see Global Citizenship as a reality, not just as a possibility. The concept of Global Citizenship gives me hope for the future. If we live like Global Citizens, we will be supported and empowered. That is a great promising new world for my grandchildren to enjoy.
  • In today’s society, having everything is no longer enough. Learning about Global Citizenship has made me realize that my generation has to do something more than just accumulating wealth and objects. The United States is technologically advanced. People strive to have the newest gadgets, but we don’t pay much attention to understanding how this can also be hurting other societies. The more we want something, the more production is demanded. Yes this is good for certain countries that manufacture the things we want, but also it may not be good. For example, manufacturing pollutes. Gases are emitted by factories, and machines, and waste constantly endangers the environment. This situation eventually reaches us in the United States, and it affects all living creatures. Soon, those affected habitats include our very own backyards. It’s like a domino effect. When other countries begin to fall, we are affected too. In reality, no one really understands how when something happens far away it affects you. When you see that it affects you, then you begin to fight. That’s what Global Citizenship has taught me. I have to learn about what happens far away, so that I can fight to keep my own community, and all of us everywhere, safe.
  • Global Citizenship means that as citizens of the world, we all have obligations to each other and to the planet itself. Whether through sharing knowledge, advocacy, volunteerism, or philanthropy, everyone can make a difference. I have always struggled to strengthen my perspective and to escape from the stereotypes in my head. That has always been one of the biggest challenges in my life. Through the eye-opening class discussions about Global Citizenship I have come to deeper understanding of my role in the world. Reading about poverty and the current financial crisis,  watching  documentaries about the painful challenges immigrants face in America, becoming aware that today there are 27 million child slaves who are deprived of basic human rights, has ultimately encouraged me to reconsider my responsibilities to my community, institutions, and society. Every problem, whether it takes place hundreds or thousands of miles away, or next-door, is a problem that all of us must solve. I’ve realized that people are more alike than we are different. All 7 billion of us enter the world the same way. We bleed the same color, and we all have the same desire to bond and belong. Taking this Sociology class has allowed me to understand globalization. I have truly embraced the Global Citizenship pathway.

Dune du Pilat, France
(Photo by DMG 2013)

  • Global Citizenship is the movement of people fighting for social justice around the world. It includes political connectedness, global cooperation, responsibility for fair trade and environmental concerns. Through learning about global citizenship I have learned that my actions affect not one but many individuals in the world. The consumer culture in the United States and many other westernized countries has large consequences on individuals whose suffering voices cannot be heard. By learning about Global Citizenship, I feel it is my duty to regulate the products I buy and reexamine my life style. It is my responsibility to educate others who are not aware of the global injustice that is going on around the world. I have learned that not only are individuals affected by my actions, the environment is too. The earth has a limited amount of resources that must supply the human population for years to come and we must take this into consideration. Global Citizenship has taught me that each individual must be conscious of what resources they use and how they use them. This could include the smallest changes such as buying fair trade coffee, to more drastic changes such as boycotting stores that use slave laborers. Being a Global Citizen means that one must be involved in global issues that might not necessarily have a direct effect on the individual. It means that people all around the world are important and must be acknowledged and treated with respect. In order for this to happen, people must realize that we are similar and that we have to be humane in our differences.
  • This English course has exposed me to the many injustices in our society and in our world that I was previously unaware of. Learning about Global Citizenship has helped me realize that it is my responsibility as a human being to recognize these inequalities and to do anything I can to prevent them. I learned that education is the key to making change, so I believe it is incredibly important to educate students and all individuals, so that everyone realizes that standing alone we are nothing, but together we are everything. I learned that I am incredibly fortunate and privileged to live where I am today, and that therefore I should do everything in my power to share this fortune with those who have nothing compared to me. Global Citizenship isn’t about helping others so that you feel like a good person, it’s about helping a human being in unfortunate circumstances just because he is a human being. Learning about Global Citizenship has taught me that I can make a difference in this world.
  •  After watching Harvest of Empire my whole perspective and thoughts on Latinos and on immigration completely changed. I now know why Latin Americans come to the Unites States. I always used to think they came here just to find jobs. I always had this annoyance that they cannot speak English. I would always say, they decided to come here, and then they should at least have the decency to learn English. I used to think that if I was to move to another country, I would first learn to speak the language before I go. But after watching Harvest of Empire, I realized that there is a history pushed them out of their countries. U.S. involvement in their countries made things really bad for them. It’s been unsafe to live in Guatemala, for example. With unsafe living, people go searching for a place to be in peace, and work, and raise their families. Those immigrants work hard. They serve in our military. Sometimes, they do not have enough time to learn English. Since I now know this, I am going to be less judgmental towards people who come up to me asking if I speak Spanish or if anyone is around who does because they cannot speak English.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship in this Women and Gender Studies class has definitely opened up my perspective about the way personal, local, national, and international actions can lead to effects for everyone. However, with regards  to the literal existence of the term Global Citizenship, I am not so sure if such a thing can actually prevail in the world. It doesn’t today. I somewhat agree with the article, “Why There’s No Such Thing as Global Citizenship,” written by Eric Liu in the Atlantic. He discusses the lack of an “international citizenship” simply because, he argues, in order to attain true global citizenship, nations can’t have local values. Essentially, as Global Citizens everyone roots for the entire world. Such a thing seems utopian. Nations everywhere compete for their own power. People tend to root for their own interests. Naturally, human beings want to feel a sense of belonging to their own “tribes.” So, I’m not sure that Global Citizenship can really work. I do believe, however, that the concept of Global Citizenship is absolutely valuable and that eventually, it could be accomplished. But I think that in order for that to happen, every single person of every single nation must truly understand what it means to be a citizen of the globe. Every single person has to become aware of his own own footprints. I don’t think I ever clearly understood what it meant until I learned about it now. And now I can say that while its goals are admirable, I think that our world today is far from achieving Global Citizenship. And now I can say that because I understand the concept a bit more, I want to raise more awareness about Global Citizenship.
  • In “Global Citizenship – What Are We Talking About and Why Does It Matter?” Madeleine Greene states that to many people “global citizenship means firsthand experience with different countries, peoples, and cultures.” This is a statement that I can relate to because I love traveling, especially when I have the opportunity to deeply immerse myself in a culture unfamiliar to me. Two instances that come to mind when reading that statement are when I traveled to El Pedregosito, Panama and lived, worked, and taught in a small rural community for a whole summer, and then also when I went to Sydney, Australia and volunteered at a small elementary school with my sister. These two experiences inspired me to come home and continue to be involved, but this time within my community. Although Mountain View, Sydney, and El Pedregosito are completely different cities, I was able to find a connection between the work I was doing at a local level and at a global level. Learning about Global Citizenship affected me because it introduced me to a concept that I didn’t realize I was connected to. It also inspired me to continue participating within my community as well as outside of it. And finally I realized that global citizenship was important to me because it taught me to be aware of those around me, which in turn allowed me to shed my own ethnocentrism.
  • When learning about Global Citizenship there were many things that came to my head. At first I thought the topic was about how everyone in the world has the same rights and that people shouldn’t be restricted by any boundaries or borders. To some point, I am correct about the concept because Global Citizenship also means that there should be justice for people across the boundaries of countries. To me this is important. I am Mexican. Many times I have been racially profiled outside and in school, which makes me feel self-conscious. This is an important aspect of my life because I know how it feels to be treated unfairly. I’ve seen it happen to other people as well. Another aspect of  Global Citizenship is “Economic interconnectedness, corporate responsibility, and fair trade.” I believe that the stronger nations shouldn’t take advantage of the less powerful nations. By that I mean that the core shouldn’t exploit the periphery. Many of the peripheries have a lot of resources that many of the core countries may really want and/or need. Everyone should be treated fairly and equally.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship makes me reflect upon the work my friends have completed around the world. I’ve had close friends go to India for a month to start a school to teach English and useful skillsets to native children. I’ve had friends in Zimbabwe who went to educate and contribute their skills. I’ve had friends who went to Nepal for similar reasons. I am surrounded by people similar to myself who want to explore what Global Citizenship really is. However, wanting to explore the world won’t do much. The fact about Global Citizenship is that in order for it to work people all over the world need to participate. That won’t happen, because too many individuals in our world are close minded and unwilling to understand or open up to a culture that is different than theirs. I feel that sadly Global Citizenship is still not tangible.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship made me realize that politics can be hypocritical and selfish.  It has affected the way I feel about U.S. companies because many U.S. companies build factories in other countries and take advantage of the poor people in those countries by hiring them for cheap labor and having them work in dangerous working conditions. Even here in the U.S. there are still many places and people that hire undocumented immigrants and pay them very little and have them working long hours in bad working conditions. For example, my grandma had to work in the fields in order to provide for her family here in California. She worked in these conditions for very little pay and because of those working conditions, she now has many health problems.
  • In my opinion, in order to be a “good” Global Citizen it is important to be in tune with what goes on around the world, and to do your part to help however you can. You can strike, donate money, boycott certain brands, or spread the word about Global Citizenship and educate the people around you. I’ve learned that individuals who take a stand and research can be more powerful than those who blindly follow politicians or TV advertising. When individuals are informed, they tend to have more insights and sympathy and to be more active in fighting for their beliefs.
  • Being a Global Citizen involves thinking critically and carrying out actions. We need to think about how our actions impact others in certain situations. I believe that to be global citizens people should become aware of the issues around them. They need to be responsible for respecting the world and the laws put into place. Citizens should start thinking about the consequences of their actions and become responsible for them. We need to affirm our human rights and help stop the exploiting of others’ rights. As global citizens we need to accept the diversity on the earth and respect it. These diversities make the world unique and as a global citizen it is our responsibility to preserve this. Global citizens are people who get involved with issues and try to make a difference in the world. They think about their actions before acting on them, because actions help make a difference in the world. Global citizens are aware of the events that are taking place around them. They get informed before make judgements. It’s good to be global citizens. We need to stay connected to get things done and have more communication.
  • Learning about global citizenship has made me open my eyes and be more aware of our neighboring countries. Prior to being in this class, I did not know what was meant by Global Citizenship. I think it’s an excellent movement. More schools and universities should graduate students with this knowledge.  Gaining an understanding of the uniqueness of each culture provides an experience that enriches our lives and the lives of others. We need to understand and embrace diversity in order to be successful in a global society. Learning about Global Citizenship has affected me in such a way that I want to go out into my local community and participate and talk about the different ways we can help other countries be more globalized. Global Citizenship makes me think more about global warming and what is going to happen to the world if we do not come together and act quickly. It seems like there is no immediate threat now, but there surely is and we should not wait for future generations to stop it. I think defining yourself as a Global Citizen–and not just a citizen of the United States–is something to be proud of. We should strive to see ourselves as Global Citizens. This Sociology class has really given me new perspectives and information!
  • Global citizenship has impacted me by demonstrating the importance of acknowledging and behaving as globally aware individuals in part of a greater society. Being globally aware involves recognition of social justice, political connectedness and cooperation, environmental concerns, and economic dependency throughout the world. If these elements of global citizenship are successfully carried out, the issues which contribute to global inequalities and stratification will extinguish.These social institutions which define global citizenship each contribute to one another through an interconnected cycle. Political connectedness is important even when we are governed by differing leaders and laws. Beyond the direct government of any nation, there lies a general respect and expectation for the treatment of humanity. By involving and cooperating with each other politically and economically, while upholding the standard for social justice, we can establish an understanding and necessity for global concerns like fair trade. This sense of communal awareness allows for better cooperation when it comes to environmental concerns which affect us all, like global warming.

Silvi and Ana at Dune du Pilat in France. (Photo by DMG 2013)

  • Learning about global citizenship has not been a pleasant experience. The knowledge is invaluable, yes, and I can’t say that I am surprised at how badly the United States seems to have screwed up Central America, but it still is not a pleasant thought that people in our society would go to such lengths as to overthrow a government simply for personal gain. Learning about global citizenship has affected me; it has given me a new perspective as to why the world is the way it is. Needless to say, social justice has not been meted out in many cases. Take Central America for example: the United States government sanctioned the overthrow of the peaceful, and DEMOCRATIC, government of (I believe it was) Nicaragua. Where was the social justice there? For taking the mighty moral high ground, the American government sure seems to destroy more than it helps. As for economic interconnectedness, yeah we’re connected alright. We are connected by flooding Mexico with cheap corn, putting multitudes of people out of work, forcing Mexican people to come to the United States for work, and then complaining that all the jobs are being taken by the very people the United States’ government has displaced. Needless to say, I am disgusted–not by the concepts of global citizenship, but by the sheer disregard for these same concepts.
  • I have always been concerned about global issues, but I had never been introduced to many of the concepts that we discussed in class. Our lessons about human trafficking and global warming are alarming, and combined with the global citizenship requirement that I should be an engaged member of our society, I am now clear that I have a duty as a citizen of this world too.We have become a more connected world, through travel, Internet, business interactions, and politics. When we studied the slavery footprint survey, I learned that fifty-one slaves work for me today and facilitate my lifestyle. I learned that the United States is responsible for much of the despair among huge populations in South and Central America, and we proceed to deny them access to our nation when they try to escape the devastation we create, even though we are one of the most influential, wealthy, and powerful countries in the world. I believe that it is my duty to do everything that I can to tackle global issues, and to spread awareness about global citizenship. The world often neglects poor countries around the world, while benefiting from their despair. Examples are human trafficking, immigration laws, and the care chain, which we read about for our journals. We all have to open our eyes to those who are suffering.
  • In this class I learned that first, we should all be conscious about our actions and their impact worldwide. Second, we need to cooperate to help solve the problems in the world.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship has affected me by teaching me that I should be more aware of my surroundings, and that I should not believe anything without being critical about it. I have to be informed! There are always two sides to every argument. I should know about the world. In this class I learned that there are three different types of countries: core, periphery, and semi-periphery. The countries that profit from the world system are the core countries, which are the richest. Core countries exploit periphery countries. Then there are the semi-periphery countries which take profit form the periphery and hand it over to the core countries.  As a global citizen I have to work for social justice. I feel a lot safer believing that I can make a difference. Learning about Global Citizenship taught me that I can make a difference, and it has definitely made me consider the possible outcomes from every action and step I take.
  • I did not need to know the existence of the word “Global Citizenship,” because I was already acting as a global citizen. Global Citizenship should be taught at an early age. While learning about Global Citizenship I learned about self-awareness and awareness of others, a definition of Global Citizenship. That’s maybe new to me, but I was already treating others the way I want them to treat me. I accepted people of different racial backgrounds and give them the respect that they deserve as human beings. Learning this honestly made me a better person. Global Citizenship is also a practice of cultural empathy. I realized that now. This is the most important lesson I learned. I am still amazed that I could learn something so significant while simply looking at a definition on Global Citizenship.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship is extremely intriguing to me, especially since I grew up surrounded by influences from different cultures. My views, which I thought were fairly open, are much more closed than I like to believe. The four elements of Global Citizenship that we discussed are: social justice for people around the world, global political cooperation, environmental concerns, and economic interconnectedness in the form of corporate responsibility and fair trade. I can connect these ideas easily with what I have learned in my American Government, Politics, and Cultural Geography classes this semester. In one of those classes we studied the definition, implications, and uses of the Monroe Doctrine. I learned about U.S. relations with Latin America and the implications for both legal and illegal immigration from nations such as Guatemala, Mexico and Cuba. One that struck me is the conflict in El Salvador where killing and torturing was done by death squads who were trained by and backed by the U.S. government. I was once against illegal immigration, because I knew through my own experience that although difficult, legal immigration is possible. Now I see that the problem of immigration in the United States is a matter of consequence. The United States created the problem.
  • All in all, I can say that learning about Global Citizenship in this class has opened my eyes to the fact that our society lacks critical information and lacks a sense of responsibility to care about other people’s problems. Something must be done, because the world is not headed in a good direction if we don’t care about one another. Learning about these concepts in class has expanded my horizons very much, inspired me to research, and learn about the world around me, and gain further interest in how to better the place that seems to be crumbling around us.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship has affected me in a very positive way. It influences me to really take a look at how the world works as a whole, and the issues that are happening worldwide. Before learning about Global Citizenship, I had this very closed view of what is happening in our world today. It is still hard to really understand the tragedies and problems that are affecting other countries outside the United States, but slowly I am trying to be more aware of my surroundings. We need to come together as a society and really fight for what is right, not just for what is best for the United States. By taking part in our own communities and making a difference by volunteering, protesting, and advocating, we can make a change. Just by showing some kind of participation in local and global issues, a difference can be made. Overall, I see that learning about Global Citizenship has opened my eyes to things I can do myself to make a better community and stronger world.
  • Learning about global citizenship has affected me in many ways. It has changed the way I think. And it will affect my actions. I now know that to be good global citizens we need to reduce our carbon footprint. I have the idea that borders between states and nations don’t really matter anymore, because technology is uniting us, and because we have bigger problems to deal with than to worry about keeping these borders up to prevent illegal immigration. The mega-problems that we are up against right now are climate change. Climate change does not care about the borders we put up between states and nations. It is not something that affects one place and stays there because there is a border that we mentally create with our minds. Climate change affects us all. And all of us need to do something about. Change starts with an individual. We need to change ourselves before we join together with other people to change the environment.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship affected me in a personal level. My parents are immigrant from the country of El Salvador and they are directly affected by the United States trying to take over several natural resources in El Salvador and in many countries in Latin America. The United States played a big role in trying to keep communism out of the Americas and since they were the “Power Elite” they felt it was easy to just invade or influence political parties in Latin America and let the United States do pretty much what they wanted.  In the 1980s my parents were in El Salvador when the country broke out in civil war. This pushed a lot of families to find safety in other countries like the United States. My parents did not want to leave their country. They had to leave children and family behind. Then my parents had to find a way to get more money in order to bring my brothers and sisters over to the United States. So learning about global citizenship opened my eyes to see what has been happening around me and has forced me to question everything about how families in the United States who come from other countries got here in the first place. Why did they have to leave their own countries? All of that reminds me of my own family.

Dune du Pilat, France
(Photo by DMG 2013)

  • Learning about Global Citizenship has affected me a great deal. In the articles assigned, I learned that sometimes one has to act locally in order to make a difference globally. If I want to be a citizen of the globe, I have to start making a change right here in the country where I am now. If every individual around the world tried to get their own act together, living and working for the benefit of everyone around the globe, we would all be able to come together and make a difference globally. Being a Global Citizen is something that every individual should strive to be. To care about the world we live in, and everyone that is in it, seems like an obvious choice. I have learned, through the videos in class, that there hasn’t been in history, and still isn’t, social justice for everyone in the world. Privileged nations and corporations are not helping the less privileged as much as they could and should. Global Citizenship can also help us to be more aware of different countries around the world. To be a Global Citizen also means to be concerned and educated about the environment. We need to take care of the world we live in, whether it’s through lessening our carbon footprints or through raising awareness. We have to work to make sure that when we die we leave our environment better than it was when we were born.
  • Reading and learning from the articles about global citizenship affected me a lot. I mean, it affected me because I want to be a good citizen and to be a good citizen I must be responsible. I need to go to school, get a high education, and get a job that makes a lot of money in order to support my parents and my family. And if I don’t do what is right for the world, I am not a good citizen. Now that I have been affected by learning about Global Citizenship, I will pass down my learning to help the world to be a better place.
  • I chose not to vote last year, solely based on the fact that I did not fully know everything I needed to be voting. I recycle, avoid wasting things, and try to conserve energy and water, but I agree that those actions don’t make me a Global Citizen–but I didn’t know enough. When I started to learn about the puppeteering of South American governments, I started to understand the truth behind the problem of immigration in the United States. I was ashamed of myself for not knowing and for looking down on illegal immigrants.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship has affected my life in a couple of ways. I have realized that some of the effects of global warming can be prevented by taking necessary action. People have the power to make a difference if they educate themselves enough about issues that affect them directly and indirectly. Colleges and universities have a huge responsibility to give their students knowledge about what is occurring in the world. It is on them to get people interested enough to make a serious impact on modern day society and eventually the world. Global citizenship has made me realize just how important it is to be educated.
  • For Global Citizenship to become a reality all people would need to agree to share the responsibilities of the world. Global Citizenship is possible, but it would take hard work. The concept of “Global Citizenship” means that every person in some capacity is a citizen of the world and therefore should be aware of the effects and relationships they share with that world. Citizenship is also defined as “belonging” to a nation, most times by accident of birth. “Global Citizenship” is also defined a voluntary way of thinking and living that emphasizes being informed and invested in people outside your own community, and being invested in the environment. If I can be so honest… I have completely ignored the concept of global citizenship. I have never left the United States, or the west coast for that matter, and therefore haven’t had time to travel and learn and truly appreciate other cultures. Of course I know that the parts in my Honda and Playstation come from Japan, the food I feed my dog comes from Canada, and that about half of what I own has been partially sourced from China or India. I also grew up going to schools that had a large amount of Hispanic and Asian students. I can understand and appreciate how globalization has affected my life and shaped who I am as a person. Learning about this concept has shown me that I’m a bit of a Global Citizen. I don’t ever support companies like Walmart, because I know how they treat their employees and all the outsourcing they do. I always try to buy local to support my local community. I avoid using products that are bad for the environment. We all do things that put us in the category of being global citizens, because in this day and age we don’t only survive on the resources of the community around us, as if our small societies were each in their own vacuum. But  I also learned that for a person to call himself a “Global Citizen,” he must be conscious of his choice. He can’t be like I used to be–well intentioned but not aware.
  • As an international student studying in America, I noticed that I am different from people from here. After I started to think about Global Citizenship in this class and I understood some of the things that have happened to me. For example, in my country, China, you don’t necessarily need to make eye contact while speaking to someone. Once, I was talking to a lady but my eyes were on the floor. Now I know why she seemed pissed. Here in America people look into each other’s eyes when they are talking, otherwise you are considered to be rude. As an international student here, I feel that learning about Global Citizenship has changed the way I think and the way I talk. I am more aware of the cultural differences.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship has made me realize that as we grow more global, more connected with other nations, we should also be learning about how much privilege we have living in the United States. We should learn about all the kinds of “bullying” we do to other nations. By learning these things, we should grow to accept the responsibility to pay attention to how we affect other nations.
  • My parents were brought together by American values: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–and the opportunity to strive for a better life. My mother immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong at the age of 9, because my grandfather saw a better financial opportunity in the States. My grandfather became a citizen because he fought in the Korean War representing the USA. My father, on the other hand, was born here, in San Francisco. And I was born here too. But because I come from immigrants, I think I should be a Global Citizen too, not just an American.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship has really affected me in many ways. First, it has reminded me that I am not just a citizen of my own country and that I don’t just have a responsibility to shape my own country. Instead, I have an additional layer of responsibility to be concerned about what is happening around the world. It reminds me of my right to work and the responsibility that I have to participate politically. Secondly, learning about it has also helped me to become more aware of the outside world and understand more on the role I have in this global society. Furthermore, it has really impacted me and made me realize that I ought to respect and value diversity and to make decisions and do things that help to contribute to building and making the world a better place. Now I know that as a Global Citizen I have a shared responsibility to shape the world into a better place.

Dune du Pilat, France
(Photo by DMG 2013)

  • Having learned about Global Citizenship has been an eye-opening experience. I noticed that I was so caught up in my own priorities and the society I live in, that I am oblivious to the rest of the world. We need to become more aware of the wider world. It is most important that we respect diversity as well as understand how the world works politically, socially, economically, and culturally. We must work together and take action to build a more just and sustainable world. We as humans are the catalysts for change and we have to channel our voices and turn them into actions. It is important that we spotlight the situations that exist, take responsibility, and confront our greatest enemy: ourselves.
  • Learning about Global Citizenship gave me a passion for working with people who live less than one mile from where I live in East Palo Alto. I may be doing little things like helping a young Mexican girl with her homework, or translating an Ecuadorian man’s letter expressing desire for street lighting (so he can walk home safely at night), but those little things matter a lot. Through our own communities is where change can begin, and through our own communities we can change large-scale problems. I have realized the importance of civic engagement, at the same time noting the social inequalities across the globe, especially in third-world countries.  Learning about Global Citizenship has heightened my desire to learn more foreign languages and about the cultures attached to them. It has confirmed my aspiration of going to the Peace Corps one day.
  • The Bay Area is full of people from various world cultures. I am an international student from Japan, and while living here I have had many opportunities to compare American and Japanese cultures. For example, when Japanese people eat one of our signature foods, ramen noodles, we purposely make sounds of sucking, but that is considered really rude in some other cultures. But for Japanese that is how we show appreciation and let others know that the noodles are delicious. Coming to study here in the Bay Area has made me a Global Citizen. And becoming aware of how Japanese eat noodles is just the tip of an iceberg that I see now. It has also taught me to learn more about my own Japanese culture. Before I learned a little more about my own Japanese culture, I used to feel embarrassed when people asked me about Japanese culture and I could not answer. Learning about Global Citizenship has taught me that it is important to know my own culture too. I think that nothing is better than knowing as many cultures as I can, especially my own.

Thank you to the numerous colleagues who collected these student reflections and shared them with me, so that in turn I can share them with you. This entry posted by Dr. Dulce María Gray.

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