Today my eldest grandchild celebrated a birthday, turning 19 years old. I’ve written four previous birthday blog posts for Dayan. I wanted to do something a bit different this year.
As I thought about my grandson on the eve of his birthday, I expressed gratitude for what an amazing person he is. Dayan has taught me so much about life as I have observed how he relates to people, how well he embraces diversity and how big his world view is.
Suddenly two words popped into my mind…World Citizen. Was that a thing, I wondered? What is a world citizen? I looked up the phrase. I found that the term is a valid one, and it perfectly describes Dayan.
A world citizen is one who identifies with being a part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices. A world citizen relates to all people generously and openly. He or she appreciates different cultures and languages and incorporates them into daily life.
That definition captures well Dayan’s way of perceiving the world. As I scrolled through some articles on global citizenship, I found one called “Four Ways to Be a World Citizen”. Dayan is already instinctively doing these things.
The article states, “To become a global citizen, you should have an open mind, educate yourself, get involved in your community, and travel when possible.”
Have an open mind.
• Learn about your heritage. It’s important to have a global mindset, without losing touch with your own unique heritage and the cultures that contributed to it.
• Inquire about others’ backgrounds, by talking to people in your own and other communities.
• Learn about equality and inequality, by reading history books and articles, listening to the news and to people’s stories. Everyone deserves healthcare, education, respect and justice when wronged, regardless of race, age, religion, identity and ancestry.
Dayan just recently did a DNA test, through Ancestry.com. His results give him a broad awareness of where his ancestors came from, how they lived, and when they migrated to the US. He is interested in learning about other people and cultures by asking questions and accepting people for who they are. He already understands about equality and inequality and seeks ways to support those who are not given equal rights and works to initiate change.
• Learn about current and past world events, and understand how past events have influenced the present.
• Discover the values of other cultures, especially those that are far removed from your own culture.
• Read as much as possible.
• Learn another language.
My grandson is my go to person when I have a question about world events, geography or different cultures. He knows, because he spends time reading and watching the news and learning from a variety of sources. He is that person who does extensive research on the internet, reading everything he can find about history, an event or a country.
Dayan just completed his first year at the University of Missouri, where he is an honor student with a double major…Political Science and Russian. He took Spanish in high school and chose Russian in college when his first choice had a waiting list. He’s discovered he loves Russian and he has some exciting possibilities coming up for studying abroad.
• Share and listen to stories, to learn more about different cultures and about what’s important to others.
• Support art, music and culture in your own community.
• Make new friends, in your community and in others. Thanks to social media, you can be friends with people around the world.
• Volunteer, supporting causes and organizations you believe in.
• Stand up for injustice.
Dayan has always been great at connecting with people. He’s just begun to get involved in other areas, lending his support and his voice to causes he feels passionately about. Injustice is something he strongly speaks out against and stands in opposition of.
Travel to Other Places
• Take a road trip. Start in your own community, your own area and your country and see new places and experience new things.
• Teach in other communities.
• Travel abroad.
This is the area Dayan is launching out into. He’s visited new places in the US…Chicago most recently. And last year about this time, we flew to Italy together, Dayan, his mom and me, for his first trip abroad. I know this is just the beginning for this world minded young man. He is eager to visit other countries, experience other cultures, and see how people live in other parts of the world.
One of my favorite photos from the Italy trip. Dayan wading in the Mediterranean.
After reading the article I referenced above, I can see that Dayan is, indeed, a citizen of the world. He thinks globally. And he has big dreams for the big world he inhabits.
At the end of his college freshman year, Dayan was honored to be elected as President of Mizzou’s Model United Nations and sworn in as Director of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity in one of the three main student governments at the university. I’m proud of him, for all that he is accomplishing and for all that he dares to do. And trust me, this young man dares greatly. I have no doubt that he will travel far and wide, in life and in the world.
Happy birthday Dayan. You are making a difference in the world, just by being you. I’m excited to see what you do, as a citizen of this magnificent world.