What is Global Citizenship?

Connection across cultures is a crucial component in fostering empathy on a global scale. As such, broadening one’s horizons and stepping out of your own experience is essential in order to develop empathy for others.

One way to achieve this goal is by diving head first into global citizenship. But what does global citizenship mean? What does one do to become a global citizen? Let’s look into the answers to these questions, as well as some of the ways in which you can expand your global citizenship education.

Global Citizenship

What is global citizenship?

While it may mean different things to different people, the most common global citizenship definition is the idea that all people have civic responsibilities to the world as a whole, rather than just their local communities or countries. So, by expanding one’s personal horizons through global learning, you are able to effect change in a more meaningful sense on both a small and larger scale.

What does it mean to be a global citizen?

So then, how does one become a global citizen? What do you have to do in order to get this kind of a global education? When people make the decision to become global citizens, they have already made a step in the right direction towards expanding their global awareness, but there are some things — both small and large — that you personally can do to take steps towards creating global citizenship in your own life. Here are just a few.

Travel One of the best ways to become a citizen of the world is, naturally, to get out and go see it. Traveling to other countries can provide you with invaluable experience and education through interacting with other cultures. Sustainable life lessons are often borne of these kinds of travel experiences, allowing you to learn about topics like global health, interdependence, diversity, social justice and more through your lived experiences while abroad.

Learn About the World As you start saving to travel to other countries, there are still other ways in which you can begin to learn about the world. The internet is a wonderful resource, and a massive web of information is available with just a few clicks or taps of your finger. If you cannot visit specific countries or cultures, with the internet, you still have a way to learn and understand their experiences. This could be through reading, but also through connecting with others across the world and talking with them about your shared and contrasting life experiences. Try to understand issues that you do not face regularly, and explore things outside of your regular purview. With the technology that is now available to us, it is not too much of a stretch for anyone to become more of a global citizen.

Become a Leader Many people point to the current crisis of leadership as evidence that we need to be doing more to build up the leaders of tomorrow. It is said that ideas don’t change the world, leaders do. Leaders with more diverse life experiences and greater empathy are desperately needed. By working on cultivating your personal leadership skills you may be able to contribute more, through becoming a leader who can focus and take action on things that feel the most important to you.

Why Global Citizen Year?

Something that can help you to accomplish each of these things on your way to becoming a global citizen is taking a gap year through Global Citizen Year. Why take a gap year? Global Citizen Year helps fellows to arrive in a place where they can learn and grow, and then in turn move the world forward through their experiences.

By taking some time between high school and college to travel to a different country and experience a completely different culture you are able to appreciate the differences, but more importantly the similarities, among people. You will be immersed in your destination, learning a new language with native speakers, living with a host family, and developing new life skills that will stay with you when you return. What’s more, you will be able to more fully prepare for college and your future professional life with a mindset that is geared towards leadership and global citizenship.

Ultimately, the effort you put into becoming a global citizen is something that will benefit both yourself, and the other people with whom you come into contact; a gap year is a great way to put yourself on the path towards that global citizenship. Learn more about Global Citizen Year and start your application now.

“To me, a global citizen is someone who seeks to engage with and has great respect for communities that are very different than their own, whether those be actually international communities or even communities within your own -- within your own country, that you are not very familiar with. The key components are respect and a willingness and in fact a desire to really engage with those communities, engage those differences, and learn from them and kind of revel in the differences that exist.”

  • Jordan Lee, Yale University '17, Global Citizen Year Alumnus '13

Gap Year Resources