European Youth Portal

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wereldbol

Become a citizen of the world

What about you? Do you feel connected to our planet and everything that lives and grows on it? Madeleine Vreeburg, who worked in developing countries and as a school advisor, says that would be practical.

"It's not going very well with the enviroment, the amount of refugees has never been this high and nowadays it's very much us against them. This doesn't go away when everybody is a citizen of the world, but I do think we need to have a critical view on the world and take good decisions."

 

That's why we asked Vreeburg to share 7 useful tips to become a citizen of the world. Ready? Here we go.

 

1. Look further than your own borders

Already in school you're talking about citizenship quite often. That obviously doesn't stop as soon as you cross the Dutch border. Citizenship isn't only about your own democrazy and your own waste sorting; you have to look at it in a bigger perspective. Be aware of your own behavior having consequences somewhere else in the world. Take chocolate. Everybody knows it and likes it, but hardly anyone wonders where chocolate comes from and how it's made. As soon as you know that sustainable cacao farms exist, where the workers have been taken good care of, you're more aware of the chocolate bar you take in the supermarket. Even at home, you'll connect with the world 'far away'. This way the world sort-of becomes one, because we're far away for people in South America. But far away isn't really far away - it's on your plate, on your body or in the electronic devices you're holding.

 

2. Look for connections, not differences

When being a citizen of the world, don't point out the things that make you different. What connects us? If you ask youth in the Netherlands, Suriname, Thailand and Sierre Leone about their favorite music, they often name the same songs. Everybody, no matter where in the world, has a nice brother or sister or a stupid teacher. When you feel this connection, you're more open to eachother. You won't think about refugees as people to come here to take advantage, but you'll be interested in their story.

 

3. Go and explore

A citizen of the world thinks. Schools nowadays still lack when it comes to this, because what you learn often answers un-asked questions. Go and explore yourself, think about the way the world is put together, what's true and false, and learn a lot more than just when listening to your teacher. Where do the clothes you're wearing come from? When searching for that answer, you'll get into subjects as economy, geography, maths and physics. You'll learn to do research, think critically, philosophize, argue, everything!

 

4. Take a critical look at your own behaviour

Citizens of the world can also take a plane to go on a vacation, but keep on thinking about why you do something and what the consequences are. Calculate the costs of driving your scooter for a year. It's not a shame (at all) to think about why that nice t-shirt only costs two euros, or to buy a refillable water bottle instead of hundreds of plastic bottles to throw away.

 

5. Don't send clothes to poor countries

It hasn't been long since the commercials on tv including poor African kids without clothes, followed by the question to make your donation. Nowadays we know this kinds of stereotypes bring more evil than good. What do you think happens to the textile industry in that African country when containers filled with free clothes are been handing out. Exactly, they can close. Realize the fact that the boy on the Indonesian country side is just as much of citizen of the world as you are - they think about the world we live in, too.

 

6. Try not eating meat for a month

You don't have to, of course, but try it out for once! Not eating meat makes you think about your food consumption. Write a list of the things that are in your fridge, read the labels, find out what ingredients are in the food and research how and where they are made. Take soya. Do you know what that is? What's in it? How it's cultivated? Get onto the internet and do a little research, simply to find out what it means for the environment and the world's food distribution.

 

7. Don't judge too fast

You must have been living under a stone if you haven't heard about Brexit, the UK's decision to leave the EU. In broad sense you could say this Brexit is the complete opposite of world citizenship. At the same time, it's understandable. The globalization went so fast. Internet, smart phones, always having enough food and traveling more often and way further. But jobs and permanent contracts are under pressure. It's not hard to lose grip.

 

Open up for people - not only for the cultures far away, but also people next to you and just around you. You can be a world citizen in your own life, too. It's just as easy to show interest in other cultures at home, as when being abroad.