What does it mean to be a global citizen? According to oxfam.org, a global citizen is “someone who is aware of and understands the wider world and their place in it. They take an active role in their community, and work with others to make our planet more equal, fair and sustainable.”
Traveling is a great opportunity not only to relax and vacation but to also exercise our rights as global citizens of the world. Traveling can be so much more than just laying on the beach and taking pictures for the gram. You and I can use these opportunities to give back to communities around the world that are less fortunate. Traveling often shows us how fortunate we actually are. What better way to be a global citizen than to not only travel to distant places and enjoy the beauty and culture, but also to give something that is tangible, that will help the people of that location.
I have taken a couple of trips with my friends where we were able to help people who were less fortunate. On one visit to the Dominican Republic, we traveled with bags of toys and school supplies and were able to distribute them to a local village that we encountered on one of our excursions. On another trip to Johannesburg, South Africa we were able to distribute toys, books, and school supplies to a local village in Soweto. On both occasions, the people were so grateful and excited about the gifts. It is so humbling to see how so little can make a difference in someone’s life. Your efforts to become a global citizen can be as little or as big, as organized or as spontaneous as you want it to be. At the end of the day, it really is the thought that counts. Those receiving the gifts will be so grateful that you even thought of them. We live in an age where technology is at the forefront of everything we do; it is so easy to do a little research to determine the needs of the people at your travel destination.
Another way to be a global citizen, is to travel to destinations that have been ravaged by natural disasters. Many places around the world, especially the Caribbean depend on tourism as their primary economic industry. When natural disasters destroy these destinations, their income is significantly reduced. We can provide a helping hand to these places by traveling there sooner, rather than later. Our first instinct is often to wait until a destination is 100% back up to where it was prior to the devastation. But we can actually help in the process of restoration by traveling there sooner. Also, consider that your trip may be considerably cheaper and you will still have a good time.
When you feel comfortable traveling again, I would highly recommend Puerto Rico to be one of your next destinations. Puerto Rico has experienced hurricanes, and earthquake after earthquake, but it is still a beautiful destination and one of my favorite places.
Being a global citizen really doesn’t require much effort, so I encourage you all to do what you can within your means, to make someone’s life a little brighter. Traveling often sheds a light on how blessed and fortunate we truly are.