Dear Global Citizen Year family,
I’m reaching out in response to the many changes we are seeing in Washington that are further dividing our country. Many are pleased and encouraged, while others feel fearful and discouraged. In the midst of it all, I feel compelled to reiterate the values that drive us and our work at Global Citizen Year – values that transcend politics, and feel particularly critical now.
Earlier this week I shared this perspective in The New York Times:
“It’s more important than ever that our young people develop the global perspective to know that ‘foreign’ doesn’t mean ‘enemy.’…This is not about grooming young Republicans or Democrats. It’s about seeding a generation of leaders who have the conviction to put their values first, in politics and beyond.”
We have always viewed our diversity as a core strength. Our Fellows, staff and supporters come from every corner of our country, and many countries around the world. With this diversity comes a broad range of experiences, beliefs and political opinions — and we relish the debate that our differences inspire.
In the wake of a travel ban that disproportionately impacts Muslims, I think about our Global Citizen Year program in Senegal, a predominantly Muslim country. Together with their host communities, our Fellows share dusty walks to gather water, and crowded bus rides home from work; they learn to eat ceebu jen from a common bowl, and to serve and savor attaya, a ceremonial tea. By staying longer and going deeper, they become an integral part of a local family and ultimately discover that fears and dreams know no borders.
Our Fellows step courageously beyond their comfort zone, to build the human bridges that withstand the winds of political change. And when they come home, it is with a foundation of empathy that informs their leadership, and America’s continued leadership in the world.
As we find our footing in this tumultuous time, my sincere wish is that we will each uncover the strength to counter cowardice with courage, to inspire others with our optimism, and to hold fast to the conviction that the arc of the future will bend toward progress.
With an eye toward that future –
Global Citizen Year