What in the world is global citizenship anyways?

Erlene Gococo, Communications Officer - Education Centre - Global citizenship may mean different things to different people. For some, it may imply action using whole-world philosophies and sensibilities. For others, it may mean caring beyond the community where you live and expanding your heart and mind.

At Rocky View Schools (RVS), students are taught that being a global citizen involves thinking beyond oneself, making sacrifices for a greater good and valuing and celebrating diversity. But empathy and compassion, two traits closely tied to global citizenship, aren’t always innate qualities in children. For this reason, RVS has committed to designing learning so that students can navigate successfully as global citizens, as outlined in Goal Three of the jurisdiction’s new Four Year Plan.

From my perspective, the concept of global citizenship is alive and well within RVS in large part thanks to our teachers who provide guidance and model behaviours that promote a spirit of generosity, both in and outside of the classroom. They also employ innovative instructional practices, helping students to uncover their desire to bring about change, whether it be through fundraising for a cause, breaking down culture barriers or pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone to improve the lives of others.

George McDougall High School’s Ride of the Mustang is one excellent example of students making a positive difference in the lives of others. Since 2011, the student-led initiative has raised almost $1 million for Kids Helping Kids, through the Alberta Children’s Hospital. At the elementary level, Gr. 4 students from Herons Crossing organized a fundraising event to raise money to host a concert for the residents of Bethany Care in Airdrie. Even at such a young age, these students recognized that their actions have a lasting and profound impact on the seniors’ community. Research supports that there are benefits to young children interacting with seniors, but also to seniors interacting with young children.

Authentic learning experiences such as The Nakoda Westbrook Inquiry (see video below) allow students to immerse themselves in another community, work collaboratively to understand the traditions of other cultures and celebrate diversity. Students who participated in this project soon realized that they had much more in common than expected – friendships were forged and cultural barriers were broken, allowing students to appreciate and support one another.

But a few examples, I am encouraged that RVS continues to promote and support the idea of global citizenship. Becoming a global citizen will ensure our children will have the ability to thrive in an increasingly global community that has become more interconnected and interdependent.