2017 Global Citizen
Whoever you are and wherever you are from, there is a place you could call home. There is a particular place you have lived for the majority of your life. This place is where you have grown and adapted to the environment around you. You have your own unique way of viewing the world depending on the place you live and the events you have lived through. You have seen the world’s daily struggles, from social inequality to family poverty. You have seen hatred. No matter if it is in a classroom or in a protest, it is still labeled as such. And because you are a human being, this world has handed you an identity like a name tag, even if it differs from the way you see yourself.
I will admit, before winning the Global Citizen Scholarship and going abroad, I worried too much about what the people around me were thinking. Growing up LGTBQ+ in a Catholic school environment, it was very difficult for me to get past the way people viewed my identity and attempted to replace it with their own labels. I have learned that there are many people who boast about being open to diversity. But when faced with it, they do not know how to handle it simply because they do not understand it.
One could imagine that flying alone across the country to join twenty people that I have never met before, and then spending two weeks with them abroad, is terrifying. Reflecting back on my life, I have never had a safe space. I have never known what it is like to share everything about the person I am to a group of people, and have it result in unconditional acceptance. The mere idea of it never crossed my mind because of the lack of positive experiences I have had in similar situations. If someone had told me that five hours after meeting these strangers, we would be sitting around a dinner table engaged in a conversation about human rights, politics, and religion, I probably would have looked at you upside down. But this is exactly how it happened. There were no awkward silences or struggles to keep the conversation going. Instead, it was quite the opposite. Despite all of us migrating from very different environments and views of the world, we were all much more alike than expected. What was it that we all had in common? What was it that allowed me to open up to people that I have known for only a few hours, more than the friends I have had for years? The answer was simple: Global Citizenship.
Becoming a Global Citizen means learning more about the world than you even knew was out there. It means identifying diversity and the differences between people and standing up for the rights of all human beings. It means not just discussing global issues, but actually acting on them and creating the change that is necessary for a better world. Although my global citizenship has only just begun, this trip taught me more about myself in two weeks than I had learned in seventeen years. It was truly the best experience of my life. I am motivated now to get my voice heard and to act on the topics I am passionate about. The safe space that I was welcomed to through this scholarship stripped away the shame in expressing the person I truly am. It taught me to be proud of the one identity I will always be sure of: my journey as a global citizen.
Join us in Berlin as a Global Citizen! Enter now.