This is the first in a series of essays on the question “Who is the Global Citizen, and what is she like?” Throughout the series, our columnists will tell us their idea of a global citizen, based on their areas of knowledge and experience. Writer and substitute-military-serviceman-rural-elementary-school-English teacher William Yang gives his preliminary imagery of a global citizen.

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In the age of globalization, the idea of the global citizen is gaining more recognition than ever before. With the creation of the United Nations and the WTO, our world seems to be loosely connected by a system that supposedly aims to ensure the general welfare of all 7 billion of us. The term “global citizen” has been mentioned time after time at major international summits or conferences, and it seems that those of us, who have the luxury to receive continuous education, are aware of the importance of our roles and responsibilities as global citizens. But how many of us have actually tried to fulfill those responsibilities in our daily lives?

Imagine a 25 year-old young man, with a master’s degree in journalism and years of experiences living in different countries. He might play the role of a global citizen better than anyone else. He speaks English and his native language equally fluently, and has friends in different countries around the world. After spending years in different countries, he develops the habit of skimming through news from around the world, often times from at least 3 to 4 different media outlets. This is a way for him to stay on top of what is happening in other parts of the world, and to maintain a good understanding of major developments in the international arena. Additionally, as a long-time human rights enthusiast, he sets a career in the field of human rights as an aspiring path for his future. He believes that one of his responsibilities as a global citizen is to understand and seek any means within his reach to help improve the general welfare of all global citizens, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity or gender. Although he hasn’t achieved that life-long goal, it continues to be the reminder that urges him to work toward that dream.

As a global citizen, he believes that anything that happens in this world will eventually affect all of us in one way or another. With the world acting as a well-connected network, the chain of effect can extend from one tip of the world to the other. He believes that his efforts to help improve the lives of other suffering global citizens can contribute to the overall improvement of people’s circumstances worldwide. To him, one thing that urges him to continue fulfill his responsibility as a global citizen is the belief in the overall prosperity and equality in this world. Being part of this world, he tries to treat everything happening in this world with equal concern and attention. Only by upholding the principle and belief of equality can all the conflicts and sufferings be eradicated from the world one day. While it might sound overly ideal, he regards it as the source of his continuous passion for human rights.

So that’s one example of a global citizen’s lifestyle, perhaps a more idealistic and goal-driven one. However, we might all realize one thing that all of us will share in common from it—our love for the world we live in. Regardless of how we choose to demonstrate our love and concern for this world, it is always a way for us to fulfill our responsibility as global citizens. As long as we all remain committed to the preservation of this world, we all qualify as responsible global citizens.

(Feature photo from Wikicommons, CC BY-SA 2.0 DE)

William Yang

William is a freelance writer and photographer based in Taiwan, with a passion for human rights and storytelling. He holds a Master of Journalism degree from Temple University, and has extensive experiences interning at global NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Mercy Corps.