In the past, numerous people defined themselves by their country of citizenship. People’s nationality frequently determined everything, from what they believed to whom they married. In some parts of the world, this mentality persists today. However, with the advent of globalization comes the creation of a new type of citizen: a global citizen. While global citizens still have one place of birth, they are capable of surviving, even thriving, in a country wholly different from the one that they were raised in. What distinguishes global citizens from nationalist citizens is simple: while nationalist citizens shun differences, global citizens welcome them.
Fortunately, my own background has prepared me to be an open-minded global citizen. I am a young Taiwanese female, and despite my age, I have been lucky to travel to several different countries that have opened my eyes to different cultures and different lifestyles. I have visited China, which was a completely different experience. China’s renown cities, Beijing and Shanghai, burst with life from every corner, with the heady scents of food permeating the air and the sounds of people rushing to and from various locations echoing against the buildings. When in China, I began to understand the whispers about China becoming the world’s next superpower, as Shanghai and Beijing literally seem to scream their progress from the neon lights that illuminate the city. Far from frightening me, this frenetic atmosphere invigorated me, and it also created a new desire within me to see other bustling metropolises, such as Tokyo, London, Berlin, and Seoul.
In addition to China, I have also travelled to Florida and the Philippines, experiencing world famous beaches set amid completely different cultures. Floridians, on average, were much wealthier than Filipinos, although both Florida and the Philippines had magnificent beaches with mesmerizing sunsets. In Florida, I encountered several people who had travelled extensively as well, and I greatly enjoyed comparing travel notes with them. During my time in the Philippines, the various historical sites, particularly the ones that related to World War II, fascinated me. Though I have learned about World War II in school, somehow seeing the physical remnants of the battle reinforced my perception of the war in a way that a textbook cannot.
I also visited the beautiful cities of Seattle and Vancouver, which seem to be covered with a perpetual mist. These cities were particularly beautiful to me, as I have always been fond of the rain and there is something magical about light rain drifting downward from skyscrapers. Seattle was also a fascinating experience because even though it is part of the United States, people that live in Seattle are quite different from people that live in Miami, and I realized that not only are there different cultures among different countries, but also there are different cultures within the same country. These realizations have helped to further broaden my worldview, and a broad worldview is one of the critical components of being a global citizen.
Throughout my travel experiences, I began to feel like a part of the world, not just someone from a part of the world, and I developed a new appreciation for the term “citizen of the world.” I feel exhilarated flipping through my passport book and seeing the faded ink stamps verifying my presence in that part of the world on a given date. I strongly believe that my travels have contributed to my development as a global citizen, and I agree wholeheartedly with the saying, “travel is the best form of education.” Through my travels, I have met multiple people from myriad backgrounds, and these experiences have allowed me to develop priceless emotional intelligence. I believe that global citizenry is an ideal that all people should aspire to have, as this will benefit the world as a whole. Thinking globally, rather than locally, may be the key to ending major conflicts based on fundamental misunderstandings and fears.