The Birth of a Global Citizen – A Personal Learning Journey
At the start of Global Xchange, and even throughout the programme, I was loud, naive and thought pretty highly of myself. I had always been one of the leaders within my groups of friends back home and was generally perceived as being pretty bright. Six months later, after meeting people from different backgrounds, participating in various citizenship events and having had a long look at myself, I’ve come to realise that I’m actually a speck of dust in this world with a lot to learn. That’s not to say I haven’t taken anything away from GX. VSO has laid the foundations and made me aware of some simple steps to take in order to become a better person: I have learnt an immense amount about myself; how people perceive me and what impact I can have on people’s lives and on the environment.
My learnings fluctuate between personal and academic with some often contradicting the other. For example, I value the importance of keeping my opinions to myself and know I must watch what I say. At the same time though, in order to improve local or national issues, one must speak out, voice their concerns and stand up for what they believe in – like many great leaders of change have done in the past.
It’s also become obvious how much of a quitter I am, how little determination I have with everything I do or with everywhere I’ve been in life: Whenever I’ve been unhappy with something I’ve wanted to change it or escape. This is not the attitude people genuinely struggling have had; if it was, history could well have been very different.
Whilst obtaining facts and figures on global HIV rates and climate change it’s become apparent how appalling my memory is (though I’ve remembered how shocking the statistics are so I’m able to act accordingly).
Finally, I’ve learnt how few skills or talents I actually have: Everybody has something fun or interesting which they’re known for – dance, football, yoga, massage, boxing etc. I don’t.
I know I’m only young, and have a long way to go yet, but on my return to the UK I plan to learn from all the things I’ve learnt on this six month voyage: From pursuing new talents and appreciating diversity to considering those around me before I speak. I promise to tackle every imperfection I’ve learnt about myself and with the world at large. Although being vocal helps some people, I’ve seen that the strongest and most passionate are those who do without speaking, impulsively act without recognition and those who generally stay under the radar.
When I return to the UK, I plan to fade into the background. I will actively, and silently, pursue change – from personal habits to starting schemes which will (hopefully) benefit others. I have learnt so much from fellow volunteers and intend to pass this knowledge on to those around me.
These last six months have been amazing and challenging. The most challenging part hasn’t been learning of the cruelties around the world, but more what I’ve learnt about myself, as an individual, a member of a large team and a human living on this planet. The significant change I’ve witnessed has been in myself: I’ve come to realise that I’m not as amazing or as strong as I once saw myself to be and that my lifestyle, as it was, negatively affected people around me, and around the world. Now I’ve been educated I can make relevant changes to improve.