A global citizen is typically defined as someone who identifies with a global community rather than their citizenship to a particular nation. They feel a sense of belonging to the world and others around the globe. Despite the feeling of belonging, the definition lacks a sense of responsibility to others. My experience with the International Youth Council, Peace Corps, and HBCUs Abroad adds another dimension to the definition. It is the responsibility of a global citizen to develop and empower the youth to become citizens of the world.
I was introduced to youth development after coming back from my time in Costa Rica. Searching for ways to become deeply involved in international affairs, I came across Asha Castleberry, a co-founder of the International Youth Council (IYC). As a fellow Hamptonian, I worked with her as a volunteer and eventually joined the executive board as the Global Chapters Director. My work with IYC allowed me facilitate workshops at events such as the United Nations Youth Assembly. Youth leaders from around the world convene at this event to unify their voice for social, economic, and environmental progress. Experiences like these allow you to see youth development in action. However, I needed a closer look at youth development. In July of 2014, I embarked on a 27 month journey to practice youth development with a grassroots perspective. As Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, I work at the local university where the students have a natural global mindset due to Facebook. They can log in and watch the worlds reactions to the Miss Universe Pageant, and even stay updated with both the US and Philippines Presidential elections. To enhance their international scope with relevance to their community, volunteers in youth development, like myself, facilitate leadership workshops, life skills symposiums and events focused on civic engagement and international education.
HBCUs Abroad is created to promote students and alumni of historically black colleges and universities who have studied, interned, or volunteered abroad. This aims expand the network of global citizens within the HBCU community and motivate students to seek out opportunities for international experience. HBCUs Abroad was developed out of the Institute of International Education: Generation Study Abroad initiative as a call to action. There was sense of responsibility for me to encourage others to become citizens of the world.
My experience in youth development gives new meaning to the term “Global Citizen.” It is not only about traveling around the world but actively being involved in it. It means developing the youth to be citizens of the world. That is our responsibility. That is the life of a global citizen. – The Natural Travelista