Over four months on the road and twelve countries later I'm coming to the realization (again) that I identify as a Canadian. Yes, I also identify as a Global citizen and with my other countries - St. Kitts and Nevis, America and Australia.
Yes, I also identify as a Global citizen and with my other countries – St. Kitts and Nevis, America and Australia. It’s easy to tell people when they ask I am from Australia – as that is where I am most recently from and everyone loves Australians. The concept of global citizenship is a bit abstract to explain with language and communication difficulties.
As a Global citizen I see how everything is connected and without borders recognize all people as family and the planet as home. Global citizenship, for me, fosters deeper empathetic care and concern for the planet and its inhabitants.
The more I explore the more I can see how as people we are alike, facing similar challenges with aspirations of similar futures. It is in time of catastrophes that people are able to connect and band together, grievances of different religious or political views petty in the face of survival. I heard a quote on BBC documentaries I liked that went something to – Going beyond the things that divide us to embrace the things that unite us.
I wonder though if we can be united AND celebrate our diversity, our differences together. I can be a global citizen with responsibilities to all people and places AND I can rejoice in my upbringing and the qualities that make me feel Canadian.
I’ve just begun thinking about this in Tehran, where Nic and I have stopped riding to sort visa applications and finances – which has been a frustrating ordeal but has allowed us the opportunity to connect a little deeper with new friends. And it has been through conversations that I have been able to recognize the fantastic ways in which we are similar and the equally fantastic ways in which we are dissimilar.
One friend here, struggles with the clash of identifying as an Iranian and an American. With characteristics and fondness for both – it must be confusing as the two opposing national identities disagree with one another. She had been persistent and persuasive in looking after me – even taking the metro to where I was to take the metro to where I needed to go! Her offers of staying over, something to eat and so on were wonderful but I also needed to get work done. It was difficult for me to keep saying no, so instead knowing that her brother is living in Canada simply said – I’m Canadian. And she got it. Ah, Canadians, they are so polite, they can not say no and do so with indirect statements. Yes, I said I’m Canadian. And we understood each other. I did some work and we got together in a balanced way that allowed me my productivity without feeling like I had been rude.
When I mentioned to my other friend here about being Canadian, he said, Ah. Canadians. They are on time and make lines. Lines? I didn’t know what he meant. You know, he clarified – they stand in neat lines and let people in front go ahead. Ah. This sure did clarify something for me as I had just been ‘Canadian’ earlier that day. I got to the embassy for the China visa early, first in line! However, when the doors opened all the people that had shown up after me headed in and went straight to the counters. So I got behind them in line. But after 20 mins and more people walking in and disregarding the fact I was ‘waiting,’ I finally said excuse me and was able to get to a counter. When I relayed this story to my friend he laughed – yea, he said. We don’t do lines here. Not only not in queues but on the road as well – there are no lines in Tehran.
This does not mean one way of doing something is better than the other, but it does allow me to recognize that I am Canadian and I’m okay with that. I know I’m supposed to be learning and sharing stories of other cultures, but it is though exploration of others I am given insight into my own culture.
Nic is a Global citizen too, having grown up in different countries with an appreciation for all AND he is an Australian. I’ll have to ask him what that means. Nic?
AND what about you? In times of the Olympics and nationalism in abundance, where do you resonate? Is it clear or conflicting and what does it mean to you to be from your country? Email a response to me at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to post your stories on this platform to celebrate all our diversity! xK
Okay, I’ll make it more inviting to submit your story- all contributors can receive an autographed print of a picture of their choice from http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldbycycle/ 🙂