Since my last blog post things have gotten very busy for me at my placement with Students for a Free Tibet and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. As a class we have grappled with the idea of Global Citizenship, the term is often used in International Development circles, but when broken down what does it actually mean? How does one become a global citizen? And to take it a step further, how does one become an effective global citizen?
While working at SFT I have been involved in numerous campaigns involving the disappearance of the Panchen Lama, the second most important leader in Tibetan Buddhism, the Tibetan River campaign that seeks to stop China from damning and diverting fresh water river sources in the Tibetan Plateau, weekly film screenings that are designed to spark discussion about various social issues and most recently I have been asked to facilitate a discussion on what it means to be an effective volunteer, and potential ways in which one can achieve this. But as time continues on one thing is becoming clearer, the horizon that brings the end of this program is approaching. Where does this leave me when the clocks run out on our time in India?
This is where the notion of being an effective global citizen can be actualized. If an individual truly has the goal of becoming a global citizen the work they are involved in should not end when the placement ends. Effective global citizenship is seen when the individual involved takes steps to better the lives of all individuals, especially at risk communities through both positive and negative actions. Positive meaning to do something and “Negative” meaning to not benefit from another persons hardship or reap benefits from their exploitation on a global stage. If we want to become effective global citizens we must actively work to remedy systems that are inherently more beneficial to one societal group over another.
Today I was involved in a very productive planning session that would help me work towards being an effective global citizen. In collaboration with Dr. Paras and Jyotsna George, the campaigns director for SFT India, we would work on putting together a resource that would help guide first time volunteers on how to be the most effective versions of themselves in terms of going beyond the typical manifestations of being a volunteer. This project would need extensive research and careful consideration. I am unbelievably excited to be part of a project that allows me to continue my involvement with the SFT community after my time in India has concluded.
My volunteer placement at Students for a Free Tibet has provided me with the ideal springboard to advance my global citizenship goals and aspirations; it is through continued work and involvement in the cause that I can seek to broaden my understanding of global citizenship. The work should never end if one seeks to become a global citizen because there is no true final destination; rather it’s a journey through one experience to the next, challenge-to-challenge with peaks and valleys along the way.