Self and World: Reflections on Personal Identity and Global Citizenship

Today, people live in an interconnected world. What happens in one part of the globe can have an indirect impact on other places. With the increasing influence of globalization on many countries in recent years, global citizenship is no longer just an abstract idea — it is now a reality. As a result, personal identities have the tendency to shift. Individual and social concerns may now surpass the limits of the national or community level and transcend into the global stage. This is the point of the video “Global Education and Global Citizenship.” In sum, the video features some of the scholars that seek to contribute to the discussion on the effects of global education on the people’s awareness of being a global citizen.

Based on the video, educating others on global citizenship is important. This is because people across the world are interconnected in many ways, from simple relations to complicated ones. Once people start to become aware of the concept of global citizenship and how it influences their daily lives, their local concerns can be transformed into global ones. Educating people about global citizenship, therefore, provides the opportunity for people to unite towards common goals and objectives. Indeed, as Reysen and Katzarska-Miller (2013) point out, global citizenship emphasizes the unique outcome of embracing a global viewpoint on many subjects relevant to the psychology of identity, actions, and environments in our daily lives.

Global citizenship has its outcomes that are connected with personal identity. For the most part, global citizenship paves the way for intergroup empathy. At the individual level, this empathy can shape a person’s identity, particularly in terms of how one looks at and treats other people. Empathy with other groups, therefore, implies personal identity that transcends environmental limitations.

This suggests that the global individual values diversity precisely because the knowledge of group differences function as the springboard for the appreciation of the multiplicity of cultures. However, it does not prevent the individual from finding commonalities despite the differences, especially in terms of problems and challenges. On the contrary, it can spur the individual to determine the common issues among groups, particularly those that concern social justice and environmental sustainability. The reason is that these concerns go above and beyond nationalities.

Indeed, the problems that beset some groups are not entirely detached from the worries that pin down others. For instance, environmental degradation in one country can have a direct impact on the environmental conditions in another country. Also, extreme poverty in one country can likewise have an influence on the foreign and local affairs of another country, no matter the distance. Given these things, an understanding of the common issues across diverse groups can help people realize the global nature of their environment and their activities.

This awareness can prompt individuals to rely on intergroup help in order to address concerns that seem confined at the local level at first but are in fact prevalent across various groups. More importantly, young people should stand at the forefront of global education in the face of global citizenship so that they can transition their generation and the next towards fully embracing the idea of global citizenship. As Niens and Reilly (2012) emphasize in their study, young people have the power to find unities in a divided society for the benefit of the generation that will follow theirs.

I have had two personal experiences that illustrate the development of global citizenship based on the outcomes. One relates with intergroup empathy. There was a time when I watched the news about the earthquake in Haiti. I realized that no matter our differences in culture and nationality, it became clear to me that their struggles in the wake of disaster will certainly be the same as ours if and when the same calamity hits us. I empathized with their situation.

Out of that experience, I further felt that I was a global citizen. Another experience pertains to valuing diversity. Several months ago, I had the chance to meet new friends from Japan. At first, I was shy to interact with them. However, once I got the chance to talk to them about my views, it became easy for us to communicate. To be sure, we had differing perspectives, especially in terms of the ways in which we value politics. Still, I realized that our diverse perspectives add to the voices that comprise a vibrant society and the refinement of ideas. It is only through our differences that we can be able to define our common goals and experiences. The role of education, therefore, cannot be simply dismissed.

General education courses can influence people to become global citizens. Personally, my general education courses have shaped my perceptions about global citizenship in a significant way. The courses provided me with the basic insights into how many social issues today only appear to be confined at the local level at first glance. On closer inspection, the issues happen around the world despite the diversities of individuals and groups. With that understanding, I began to understand that it is not enough to detain our approaches to social issues within the local level. The more important task is for us to not only to realize the global nature of many social issues but also to empathize with others and help them. After all, global citizens can hardly resolve overwhelming social injustices and environmental problems by responding to them as individuals isolated at the group level.

In the end, our personal identity is global in many ways inasmuch as our global citizenship also seeps into out personal identity. Through general education, people can start to realize not only the relationship between personal identity and global citizenship but also their ties with other people. From my experience, I can say that, indeed, no person is an island. What I do can and will have an impact on others inasmuch as what others do can and will have an impact on my identity no matter the physical distance.

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