Help Your Child Become a Global Citizen
By Constanze Niedermaier
A wise man from Singapore1 compared the countries of the world with a cruise ship. He said that in the past people lived in 193 different “boats”—that’s how many countries there are in the world.2 Each boat had a captain and crew who set the rules and made sure their boat didn’t collide with others. Now that the world has become so connected and its countries so dependent on each other, it is as if the people from the 193 countries live in one big boat with 193 different cabins. Everyone on board must learn to get along. They have to agree on the direction the ship is heading, and they must agree not to destroy the boat they all share.
Think about what would happen if a few cabins locked their doors and refused to communicate with everyone else. What if those cabins had the keys for the kitchen, fuel for the engines, or medical supplies? What if the people in one cabin decided to cook on open fires? What if people in others started fighting with each other? What if residents of one cabin poured toxic waste in the ship’s water supply? What if someone in a cabin became ill with an infectious disease?
Aboard this giant ship, what the people of one cabin do affects everyone else on board, in both good and bad ways. The same is true for each country in the world. Countries can no longer pretend that what happens elsewhere in the world doesn’t affect them.
The world is interconnected: its economies, currencies, food supplies, and natural resources. International alliances such as the United Nations, NATO, and the Hague Convention demand that countries help each other if there is a war. Diseases travel around the globe faster than they might be detected. Through the Internet, people all over the world get real-time information about what is happening in other countries. And damage to the environment affects all of us. We need to remember that we are all in one boat, and we mustn’t destroy it.
Being global citizens means being citizens of the world who know that they are part of one community. It means being aware that everything they do has an impact on the whole planet and all its people. Global citizens, no matter their age, know that they can make a difference in the world!
What You Can Do
Learn as much as you can about the world and its challenges. Be respectful and mindful of every person and animal, and the environment. Discuss with your friends what it means to be a global citizen and how all of you can join to make the world a better place.
1 Kishore Mahbubani, The Great Convergence (Public Affairs, Perseus Book Company: 2013).
2 Numbers of countries in the world differ: There are 196 countries; the United Nations has 193 members; and the United States officially recognizes 195 countries.
Reprinted, with permission, from Whyzz: 33 Family Conversations about Global Challenges by Constanze Niedermaier (Whyzz, 2021), whyzz.com.
Constanze Niedermaier is the mother of two beautiful, curious kids and the founder and CEO of Whyzz, a media company that provides parents with tools for honest family conversations. Constanze is a refugee, immigrant, mom, wife, animal lover, award-winning author, and global citizen. She started Whyzz when her first daughter was born. She realized that she needed creative tools to answer her little girl’s questions and raise a curious, global-minded child of the 21st century. Her approach to parenting can be best described as “Passport Parenting,” which means she aspires for her family to explore the world together and to understand how everything in it is interconnected.