What does global citizenship entail?
Over the course of two weeks we have been learning about this concept. The last century has led to more human deaths from conflict than the rest of human history combined. Many of these were due to often unjustifiable notions of religion, race and class. As globalization continues traditional divides are being destroyed, and more and more people can move between cultures or at least via the use of technology, to experience a culture radically different to their own. To avoid past conflicts we need to learn to look beyond past discourses or nationhood or racial group and empathise with others, to experience shared aspects of the human condition and realise the fragility of our shared planet and take responsibility for it. This is what we shall term as global citizenship.
This course has taught us to think in a critical way about our views on nationality. While many of us came into the programme seeing the Danube region in terms of the rigid divides between countries, we soon learned that language, culture and identity very much transcend these borders. This notion applies not just to the Danube region, but to the wider world, as migration is so widespread and each person has their own set of experiences and their own idea of where belong. The lectures we had on minority groups such as Jewish and Roma communities made us consider the concept of ‘othering’ and how this can lead to prejudice and marginalisation, which led us to further consider the themes of identity and culture.
Language is one of the most important part for being a global citizen as well as understanding culture and identity. It entails human/cultural history. In our (Hungarian) group, we are really fortunate to have an amazing teacher Dr Eszter Tarsoly. We used to have stereotypes on other people, with one of the most universal feature as stereotyping their language as ‘strange, difficult etc.’. Thus before starting the language session, we were a bit worried even though we are already partly global citizens (from different part of the world) – the majority of the group did not have knowledge on Hungarian, and the label we have for this language is that it is very difficult. Luckily, with her patient teaching, for only one lesson we were able to introduce ourselves in simple sentences. In the subsequent lessons, she tried to teach us cultures and history of Hungary that contributed to this language, as well as the difference in the grammar, making language learning not only easier, but also a lot more fun. By learning this language, we seem to feel a bond with Hungarian people, just as Nelson Mandela once said, ‘if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart’.
In a nutshell, this strand gathered us together, with people from all over the world inside the small group. We were curious to learn about the unique cultures along the Danube and to respect each other. As a global citizen, although the lessons were only about Danube region, we learned how to communicate and cooperate with each other.
All the voices will be heard and none of the culture should be eliminated.
-James, Amy, Maggie and Yiwei