A Global citizen implies a citizen of the world. Our world is as big or small as we make it. Our sense of belonging to a community, a town, a city, a country, a continent, the entire world.
In Sanskrit is a saying, “Vasudeva Kutambakam”, “The World is my family.” This is not a new age idea but it is an age old concept. In our parlance today it translates as Global Citizen.
How do children learn ?
Children learn most easily by emulating their parents or teachers. They learn through keen observation and imbibe ethics, values and ideas. It is upto us as responsible citizens of the world to bring up aware and responsible children who are sensitive and empathic to the world. It is important to inculcate in our children a sense of community, a global community. Being social creatures, we must try and ingrain in them a sense of co-operation and the idea of being a team player, thus working together for the good and betterment of all.
A few thoughts to encapsulate a few steps in an effort to make our kids Global citizens.
Be Role Models
As parents and teachers we can be ideal role models. So, not by word but by action by actually walking the path we can show our children how we co-operate with people and are sensitive to the pain of others. How we participate in small ways to better our world. By being part of small groups at the area or district level which work together for the universal good. By reaching out to people in times of natural disaster or calamity by contributing to collection drives to help those stricken.
Awareness – keep an open Window to the World
By being aware and creating an awareness in our children of the current affairs. It could be by reading newspapers, following the news online or watching news channels to keep abreast of the global scenario. By having informal discussions about an issue that touches you thus making children aware of the global scene. By seeing films and plays that touch upon social issues and having open discussions and airing thoughts and opinions on them. All these activities will get a child more involved and aware of topics that he may not have noticed earlier. Before developing empathy, the first step is to develop awareness about happenings in our world.
Empathic individuals – developing empathy
It is a very important soft skill to impart to our children that they feel and are sensitised to other people’s problems. In today’s world where everything is so self-directed, it is essential to get them to be sensitive to global issues. By visiting orphanages and old age homes, doing some social service, they feel for another which will be an important step towards becoming a global citizen.
A sense of World Community
The idea that our family unit is a part of community, a sense of belonging to a society and breaking boundaries beyond , instilling in them a feeling of Oneness. All people the world over struggle with emotions and many similar issues. A sense of being part of a whole that does not end in one’s area or neighbourhood. If parents and teachers have a friendly and empathic bent, the children will most naturally observe it and emulate them. They will develop a camaraderie with people.
Take Initiative – Prompted to take Action
If parents are part of social groups, it could be a building committee where they work for the betterment of the building or a bigger group such a Rotary or Lion Club where a lot of activities for social welfare are undertaken. Children could accompany them and participate in these activities along with their parents. So, it is not only the awareness but going ahead and doing your bit is what the child comes to realize.
Form groups at the grassroot level – Bring people together
The famous dictum,” Charity begins at home” applies here too. Beginning at the cellular microcosmic level of being aware and reaching out to solving problems in the family unit, then further extending this empathy and taking action with a group of friends in small communities and from there branching out further taking to a state, national and finally global level. But the birth of the seed is in the smallest unit. So, beginning a process at a very basic level and then growing bigger can be actively observed by your young child.
Inculcate in your kids a Sense of Achievement and Satisfaction
When there is a goal set, one takes either baby steps or big strides to achieve it. As one reaches closer to one’s goal a person’s confidence increases by leaps and bounds. This sense of achievement leads to an inner satisfaction and a “feel good” feel about oneself. If a person is satisfied and content with himself, he is a gift to society as he is fulfilled himself, then can he work selflessly for the betterment of others.
As parents and teachers we may do our best to inculcate in our children the quality of empathy, we may ourselves be involved in groups or communities to alleviate the global issues which touch us. We may do our best, but being a global citizen, has to rise from a feeling within. It is a very subtle teaching and learning, almost an osmotic procedure.
It is our duty to sensitise our children, but ultimately it is their call to be global citizens.