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"I am often asked, 'what can people do to be a global citizen.' " I reply that it begins in your own community." - Kofi Annan

What is Global Citizenship?

What does it mean to be a 'global citizen'? According to The Global Citizen Initiative, a global citizen is one "who sees himself or herself as being part of an emerging world community and whose actions help define this community’s values and practices." The Global Citizen defines the term as a community of people who want to address some of the world's most extreme political, social, and economic issues.  Oxfam Education defines a global citizen as "...one who is aware of and understands the wider world - and their place in it."

Now for my definition. I define global citizenship as the idea that we are part of a community of humans, either locally or globally, in which it is our duty to help each other.  Yes, we should be aware of global issues. Yes, we should address major issues of the world. Yes, we should aim to be involved in communities beyond our own towns, cities, states, or countries. But first, I believe we can and should simplify this idea to it's most basic form, helping those around us who are in need -  this begins in your own community.

Why Me?

For many people, becoming a global citizen is an on going process of education and experience. As we grow older we learn about and experience our world first hand, we develop a desire, or maybe a sense of obligation, to see our world's communities succeed together. I have almost the opposite story. I am an American whose entire childhood was spent in Ghana. I spent nearly the first 15 years of my life in a foreign country... but to me it wasn't foreign, it was home. I've lived in the capital city of Accra, I've lived in the more rural area called Ho, and I've lived in a medium sized village call Kansarowado. We ate Ghanaian food, we lived in Ghanaian style houses, we conversed in Ghanaian languages (Twi and Fante if you're curious), we immersed ourselves in a culture that accepted us and helped us integrate fairly smoothly. I was born a global citizen. From the beginning of my life I was taught to show empathy, compassion, and love to all and I was taught to be actively engaged in helping others. That's my story of how I became a global citizen. So what do I do to be engaged as a citizen of the world?

Two Communities

To paraphrase the Ghanaian visionary and politician Kofi Annan, global citizenship begins in your own community. I consider myself fortunate to have two communities that I belong to. One here in the US and one in Ghana. My community is where my kids are going to school, where my family lives, and where I make daily decisions that impact my family, my students, and my friends. My community is also where I lived for 15 years, the place that helped shape me into who I am today,  and the people that showed me what acceptance, diversity, and love looks like. I have two communities that are unique to me, it's through these communities that I have the most immediate impact.

What Do I Do?

Nelson Mandela called education the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. My tools to create a greater world rest in my ability to perform and teach music. 

Since moving back to the US, I began to understand the growing importance of being a global citizen and what it means to me. In 2014 I met someone who has become a mentor and source of inspiration for me. He encouraged me to think about how I can combine my past and my present to become a positive force in the world, how I can expand my box, not just think outside of it. Thus, the Ghana National Music Festival was born. You can read more about the festival at our website, but my personal goal for this was to positively influence a single person through music education. There is a transcendence of borders and cultures as I tried to create an institution that will foster both education and collaboration between my two communities. I want to become an ambassador of change using music as my vehicle.  

That's my tiny contribution to this world. I challenge you to find your voice as global citizen and use it to foster positive change in your community.

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