27th Nov 2016, 10:30 am 1 Like(s) 0 comment(s)
Global Citizenship by Blessing Chidinma Amadi


To say that I have fallen short of Global citizenship, for me, is only a polite way of saying that I lack cultural understanding and multilingual ability, which in turn has punished me severely since my stay in India. This is because Global citizenship and cultural understanding are two sides of the same coin, to which multi-lingual ability is the solution; a crucial substance needed in making those two effective and compatible in a globe increasing in political, social, cultural, and religious bias. I also refer them to a syringe and the skin/body, which needs a needle through which it can function, otherwise, becomes incapable.

You sure want to know how? I’d like to start by getting you acquainted, in my own definitions, with the concepts of Global citizenship, cultural understanding, which is in its most popular term, called cultural awareness, and then multi-lingual ability.

“Multi-lingual ability is the power or skill to speak, understand, or even participate in several languages, other than one’s mother language/tongue”

“Global citizenship is patriotism beyond one’s local or native community. It is the devotion of love, aid and even identity to humanity at a global level.”

“A global citizen can so be said as one who identifies himself as more of a world citizen, rather than a particular nation/country.”

“Cultural understanding/awareness is feeling, experiencing, noticing, or even knowing about the beliefs, customs, and arts of a people outside your local or native community. There are four stages of cultural awareness;

1.    1ST STAGE:    at first, one knows and believes only in the perfect existence of his culture, and finds it difficult to accept another.

2.    2ND   STAGE:     at this stage, one knows about the culture of other people, but still believes that his is the perfect one.

3.    3RD   STAGE:    here, one gradually begins to accept the culture of others, seeing its beauty, appreciating it, and using such cultural diversities to create solutions which makes for easier collaboration.

4.    4TH STAGE:     people who are well advanced in the third stage, though of diverse cultures, come together to cultivate those into one for the innovation of a more suitable, general and appreciable culture.

These are the stages each and every one pass through before attaining cultural understanding”.

Having defined the terms; I shall elaborately discuss the given topic in three points:

a.    Global Citizenship and Multi-lingual ability
b.    Cultural Understanding and Multi-lingual ability
c.    Global Citizenship, Cultural Understanding , and Multi-lingual ability

Being a global citizen entails giving ideas, resources, and services to nations beyond one’s own, and necessarily identifying oneself at a global community level, as opposed to the citizen of a particular nation/country. Though this has not become a liberal activity all over the world, as it is a bit controversial and limited, a few are already into it, giving in their best in the positions of social entrepreneurs and NGOs [Non-governmental Organisations]. Such ones travel outside the nations, not for a personal business, but global. They analyse societal problems from a global point of view, rather than their local point of view. If one therefore, must be involved in such kind of natural-justice rewarding job, then one is expected to be acquainted with the languages of a people, other than his.

However, this has proven difficult for centuries, as only a few go into the field of learning a language, other than theirs, or even within their continent, thereby limiting a cause for Global Citizenship, its imaginable beauty and harmless impact in the global world of the 21st century, where racism have become the subject matter for every born child. Import and export isn’t Global Citizenship; it is literally trade by barter. This topic is one beyond ordinary export and import, and involves an extra-ordinary political, economic and social inter-relationship across our native communities. 

I believe in the opportunities and hope for nations, emerging from citizens who do not under-limit their ideas and inventions to their local communities. I believe in contributing socially, politically, economically, etc., to an immigrated nation, whichever I find myself, not limiting or reserving my resources for any cause, and I believe that such nation should accept criticism from foreign folks, knowing that they render such help, not because they lack the five senses of reasoning, but because they’re more of Global citizens, than just foreign folks. 

I like to form youth forums, and empower women to achieve an A-Okay self-esteem.

I like to interact and buy lots of information through interactions, at least for myself, as a writer, but language has extremely limited me and bored me, to the point that I am pined to the option of learning more than one language if I must globalise my citizenship to the extent of India, as a country, because not every of her citizen understands the ‘so-called’ national language; hindi.  

Having in mind the definition of cultural understanding, we cannot doubt the fact that it can in no way be achieved without the existence of multi-lingual ability. Here is an illustration;

When I came to India, I observed the people’s gesture of saying yes, or affirming to a thing, contrary to my African way of saying no, or disagreeing to a thing. It was quite weird and ridiculous in the beginning, as I would always wonder why someone should be saying no to me unnecessarily, perhaps, when I’m asking for clarification or making an explanation. Definitely and assuredly, those gestures would have made more meaning if I could understand the ‘spoken yes’ of the people. I may not have to mind whether or not they made gestures familiar to me.

Another illustration is the act of giving out or offering with the left hand. Generally, this may be disrespectful, but some countries do not take it very seriously. However, in some, it is a taboo to give out money or any material thing using the left hand. Say a foreigner arrives for the first time, in one of such countries who take this act for granted, boards a taxi, and when he gets to his destination, pays his fare to the driver using the left hand. But instead, the driver begins to abuse him an evil person for paying him money, using his left hand. It would be quite disheartening and embarrassing!

If a person have not come to a cultural understanding or awareness of that culture, but have the ability to speak, or even understand the language of the people, it would mean less of a taboo, since one could hear the giver accompany the offering with polite words, that the one receives whatever is being given without bias and anger. Otherwise, it may be interpreted to be an insult, whereas, the foreign citizen is completely ignorant of such culture.

I’d like to give credit to a group of people who it seem to me, have embraced this aspect of life, and are exploring the extra-ordinary with multilingualism. They are the tourists; ranging from those who often travel to different places for pleasure, to members of a sports team that is playing a series of official games in a foreign country. I think that added to being a crucial thing to do, they find it intriguing to learn the language of another people, and absolutely give their cultural standards a benefit of doubt, accepting it, whether or not they gain from the people. 

In a situation where a nation have multi-languages, they have a major role to play in making it easier and possible for one to learn more languages. How can this be done? Every nation certainly have a national language or what we know as lingua franca, if not, a few major languages. The government of every nation should enforce the learning of those on the citizens. They should make sure that citizens are capable of speaking their lingua franca. In this way, global citizens would find it a lot easier to interact with anyone, should they travel anywhere across the globe, if they at least, know the major language/s of the people. It then becomes a thing of choice and extra task to learn more if they wish to. 

The cause of global citizenship would be saved, global citizens would be more united and enthusiastic, if more people give a chance and more time to cultural understanding, and if multi-lingual ability is taken to be a thing of unique skill; in the sense that people with multi-lingual ability should be appreciated and applauded.

Perhaps, stating clearly the importance of multi-lingual ability in fostering Global Citizenship and Cultural Understanding would help us to imagine better, the mess that we have congratulated for centuries, and open wide arms to embrace an opportunity that no technological invention can solve;

1.    The first imagination that comes to my mind, as regards the solution multi-lingual ability has to offer our global world is the fact that the primitive abandoned parts of this world who have long died in primitiveness would however be lifted from that dungeon. They and their government who have been bridged by a wall of ill-communication would then, be released from such bondage, as greater opportunity would be brought to their very door steps, if global citizens take a brave step to learn to interact with them limitlessly. 

2.    One of the world’s top controversial issue is Racism. Discrimination is at all levels. As a student in India, I have faced series of discrimination ranging from transportation to shelter. Since English is not their lingua franca, it’s a lot difficult interacting.  But there is something obvious I observed which is a lot traceable to lack of multi-lingual ability. 

When I flag down a taxi or Auto Rickshaw, and unfortunately have an indigene standing beside me for the same purpose, the driver would most times pick up the other, if he’s not able to understand immediately my destination, which may be difficult to understand because of our difference in language and intonation. Other times, they don’t even want to give you a listening ear, because they already predict you would stress their ears and brain to understand.

When I go to small shops to buy sometimes, the sellers prefer to attend to those who can speak in a language they would understand, rather than myself, who would make caricature of their ears.

But with the help of multi-lingual ability, the power of discrimination can be limited drastically, because one would hardly find a reason to neglect or underestimate a global citizen/foreign folk.

3.    This may be quite funny, but multi-lingual ability, if dedicated to by global citizens would breed a better cultural understanding and unity. It’s intriguing to hear the citizen of another nation speak your language. Whenever an Indian heard me speak their language; just the little bit I know, it were a point of attraction. In the camps, my Indian friends would always burden me with their language lessons. It’s always fun learning, though a lot stressful, and I observed and wondered why it gave them that much happiness to hear a foreigner speak their language. 

So, I think it fosters togetherness, which is crucial for the existence of global citizens across the globe. It makes rigid and higher, the status of global citizens, creating a vacuum in the hearts of others to want them, and work with an “alien” who can understand and interact with them, without mincing words.

Conclusively, I would like to state that, cultural understanding is the weakest point to Global Citizenship, but to the both, multi-lingual ability is the solution; one that cannot be done without, one that has dealt with me, that in my college sometimes, when the lecturer cracks a joke in the Indian language, I feel bad that I can’t laugh along!


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