Initially, from the information session I went to in February 2016, I learned that a Global Citizen Scholar is someone who is given the opportunity to travel abroad after group studies concentrated on foreign social, political, cultural, and economic issues. After I learned more, I realized it’s not just that. To be a Global Citizen Scholar, you are given the opportunity to engage in civic works alongside the Meadville and Allegheny community; you are given the opportunity to broaden your expertise of the world by learning more than you’d ever in any normal class; and you are given the opportunity to understand diversity more entirely and thus becoming an even more remarkable human being.
As a Global Citizen Scholar, I expect to be working alongside amazing individuals that have all of the same intentions as I do. I want to be able to open up to these individuals and create lasting relationships with them. I also want them to share their stories and experiences so I can learn more and be even more open-minded than I already am. I want to be able to share my love of civic engagement and my desire to learn as much as I can with them. Uniting as one large group will allow all of us to strengthen our minds all the while building those bonds. Moving on throughout life, we’ll be able to take the experiences we’ve learned from each other and through the program itself, and apply them to our own lives, forever becoming the leaders of tomorrow.
In February of this year, Hugh Evans, an international activist, released his TED Talk titled “What Does It Mean To Be A Citizen of The World?” Well, there’s this one part of his speech that I believe represents what it means to be a Global Citizen in its entirety. It’s as followed:
“It’s not just about any one organization, it’s about citizens taking action. Research data tells us that of the total population who even care about global issues, only 18% have done anything about it. It’s not that people don’t want to act, it’s often that they don’t know how to take action or that they believe that their actions won’t have any effect… And global citizens stand together, ask the question why, reject the nay-sayers, and embrace the amazing possibilities of the world we share.”
For years of my life, I’ve always wanted to make a larger impact than what I normally could do locally. I’ve always had this thought in the back of my head saying that I’d never be able to do it, such an opportunity would never arise, things similar to that. This program, however, is that opportunity. I’ve understood that the whole world is my backyard for awhile now, and I’m utterly galvanized to take action… to take action in the fights against universal issues like gender inequality, poverty, famine, civil rights, pluralism, and so forth.
Global Citizen Scholars, including myself, will set out to treat all as we’d want to be treated; we’ll set out to fulfill the three-part framework for pluralism proposed by Eboo Patel, the president of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). The framework, which is mentioned in Eboo Patel’s book Sacred Ground, includes “a society characterized by respect for people’s religious (and other) identities, positive relationships between people of different religious backgrounds, and common action for the common good.” It’s important to recognize that respect of all identities is what’s most needed in this world. Having respect of those from a different background will enable us to build bridges between diverse communities, and thus creating a better world to live in.
It’s great to have respectable intentions, but how will we commit ourselves to this form of civic involvement besides inside our little group? The answer is collective impact. In an article written by Mark Kramer and John Kania, the co-founders of the Foundation Strategy Group (FSG), they describe collective impact as “the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.” In other words, large-scale social change comes from better cross-sectoral collaborations rather than an isolated approach of individual organizations. The way our program will implement collective impact into our work locally is by working alongside certain programs to solve a specific social issue. For example, I’ll be teaching French to a group of fifth graders at a local elementary school to help move toward a higher platform of education, and other global citizen scholars will be doing the same with other programs that they believe are just as important, such as at soup kitchens, women services, and so forth.
One major part of the program itself is the traveling abroad portion, which will allow us to implement this collective impact into our work globally. I’m very excited to know that I’ll be given the opportunity to go to another country courtesy of Allegheny College to learn upfront about foreign studies. As someone who intends to work with foreign affairs, this will provide me with a great experience to share with my potential future employers as well as to better my foreign language skills in everyday life. I hope to learn a great deal of business affairs, global economics of all standings, and social interactions since that’ll be most helpful with my career aspirations. However, I’m even more excited to see this collective impact succeed. This new approach will enable us to solve today’s most serious social issues with the resources that are already at our disposal.
These sort of opportunities don’t come around that often for most people, so it cannot be taken for granted. Soaking in all of the skills and knowledge that this program will provide for us students will build us into even more well-informed and committed citizens that will continue to step outside the box. We are a group of diverse students, we are committed to broadening our perspectives both locally and globally, and most importantly, we are citizens of the world… are you?
Patel, Eboo. “The Science of Interfaith Cooperation.” Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America, Boston, Beacon, 2012, 65-87.