Amanda Roche
Honors FYEX
Professor Corley
12/9/13
Applying Global Citizenship to my Life
What do you do when you first meet a new person? To most Americans, they
will introduce themselves and maybe shake the other person’s hand. Especially
when I came to college and was meeting new people everyday, I quickly learned that
a handshake was normal. However, when I visit my family in Arizona, who came
from a Mexican background, meeting a new person usually meant a hug and a kiss
on a cheek. This was also familiar to me since I had met many new family members
over the years. This simple example is one way of showing global citizenship within
my own life. Although I didn’t understand what it meant to be a global citizen, I still
knew to adapt to the Mexican culture to make the people I met feel comfortable.
Global citizenship is a term that is not easily defined and understood right away.
After weeks of studying global citizenship I feel confident in writing about what
global citizenship is, what I specifically took away from it, and how I will use it in my
future.
Through lectures and readings I have come to understand a general
definitions of the term global citizenship. As an honors student, it is very important
to exhibit cultural competency and awareness. It is very hard to exhibit these
qualities if I do not understand what they mean. Reading the articles by Fernando M.
Reimers, Sangeeta R. Gupta and listening to Dr. Corley’s presentation has helped me
to develop my understanding of global citizenship. From the three different sources,
I have found three key items that define global citizenship: attitude, skill and
knowledge of cultures. Attitude includes understanding the cultural differences, the
willingness to adapt and be bi-cultural, and also to avoid violence between cultures.
Skill is simply learning the language and the appropriate ways to speak it.
Knowledge of the culture includes knowing the history, geography, communication
and also knowing proper etiquette of the country.
One very popular word used in describing global citizenship is the word
culture. Prior to this course, I thought of culture as a way of life and similarities
within a group of people based on things such as traditions, customs, food and music
etc. Although this is not wrong, this only covers objective culture. Objective culture
refers to the things that we can see. Subjective culture refers to things we don’t see
like the common attitude, beliefs and way of thinking. I can clearly correlate the idea
of objective and subjective culture with my trip to Italy this past summer. Before
going on the trip we had meetings to help us better understand the culture of the
Italians. One difference the girls had to take note of was the dress code. It was not
proper etiquette to walk around outside in sweatpants and a t-shirt. It’s much more
common to wear a conservative dress, and that is an example of objective culture. It
was easy to pack dresses, but understanding the Italian’s subjective culture was a
little more difficult. We had to understand that the meals would not be fast food or
even a simple one-course meal. To the Italian’s a meal was not just food, but a time
to sit, relax and socialize. I quickly learned to adjust to the idea of not being rushed
through my meal or interrupted. This value is something that not even the Italians
could see, but it was there. For me, this helped me to fully understand the concept of
culture and global citizenship.
Over the course of four weeks we covered a lot of material, but there are a
few key concepts that stuck with me the most. I felt like I learned the most from the
Bennett reading, specifically about ethnocentrism and ethnorelativism. I had never
heard of the terms before and I thought they were extremely interesting. For me it
was most simply explained as ethnocentric is avoiding cultural differences and
ethnorelative is seeking cultural differences. Also mentioned in the article are the
five stages from ethnocentric to ethnorelative. It starts with denial, and then
defense/reversal, minimization, acceptance and finally adaptation. After reading
about the five stages in detail, I was curious to see where we, as a class, stood among
the five steps. I was glad we had the opportunity to take the IDI test, and I was very
surprised to see the results. The report was long, but the most important part to me
was seeing our perceived orientation and our developmental orientation. As a group
we thought we were along the lines of acceptance, but in actuality we were just
below minimization. It was a shock to see how far we need to go to becoming
globally competent, but it made sense. Going back to my experience in Italy, I can
now place myself in the defense/reversal category. I remember thinking, why can’t
Americans dress up everyday? How come our food isn’t in these small portions?
Why can’t we drive small fuel-efficient cars? Instead of accepting the cultural
differences, I was focused on comparing the two cultures and making one cultural
seem better than the other. Bennett’s reading and the IDI report has taught me a lot
and has shown me that I need to start working on seeking cultural differences.
After understanding the concept of global citizenship, I am now able to figure
out how I can develop my intercultural skills here at MSU Mankato. I have already
completed the language competency by completing the course SPAN 21OW this
semester. Another idea that I have been thinking about for a very long time is to
study abroad. I am not a traveler and I don’t really have the funds or the time for a
semester long study abroad trip. However, this past summer I went to Italy for two
weeks and the experience was incredible. In the future, I am thinking about possibly
doing a weeklong study abroad trip to help me to become multicultural. The
PowerPoint by Professor Contag about the study abroad programs offered here has
really helped me to realize that there is something for everyone. My goal for my four
years in college is to at least travel one time outside of Minnesota whether it’s on a
study abroad trip over seas or a mission trip to New Jersey. Outside of traveling, I
want to take advantage of all the local opportunities to work on my global
citizenship skills. I want to participate in many of the different cultural events to get
a feel for the basic cultures and customs across the world. I also want to really get to
know more about the different attitudes and beliefs that separates our culture from
other ones. I hope to do this by talking with students from different ethnic
backgrounds and also volunteering at the Lincoln community center. Since my
major is elementary education, I think it would be a good idea to help Somalian
students with their English to help me progress in my teaching skills while learning
about the Somalian culture at the same time.
As a whole, I have learned a tremendous amount of information about global
citizenship and my own expectations as a global citizen. In just four weeks I feel as
though I have begun to comprehend the meaning of global citizenship and take what
I have learned and apply it to real life.