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Becoming a global citizen




Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

A common vision expressed by several analysts is that we must be able to equip our young people to become global citizens.  Easy to say,  but becoming such requires a transformation of our social institutions, specifically the educational system.  This means the ability to confront the risks we now face at the global front- issues of conflict, climate change, interdependence, and concerns that would ensure  peace and harmony in our relationship with other peoples of the world.

This means taking a hard look at our learning system, especially focusing on basic education – kindergarten up to high school where we learn most of the needed competencies. These include social and civic skills, intercultural aptitudes, human rights, social inclusion.  It is getting out of our narrow confines, beyond our families and clans, social and economic strata as we embrace the challenges of the world outside.

Challenges such as continuing inequality, migration, and  disruptive technologies, threaten our traditional values and lifestyles and demand a turn-around in our current attitudes and mindsets.  To continue to survive and overcome requires  capacity for self-awareness and willingness and resilience in adopting new patterns of thinking and behavior.

For many of us, this shift may be difficult as we have been brought up in a social and cultural environment that is hierarchical – within the family and in our social and political circles. While we live in a democratic state, our values and social institutions are far from being democratic as we have not as yet been unable to break the power and privilege which oligarchies, political dynasties, and ruling clans enjoy.

To a large extent, the social media such as Facebook are helping break down these “North-South” and class hierarchies. More than anything else, and I am sure that many would agree, Facebook and the new technologies had accomplished that most important function of connecting us with old friends and relations and helping us make new ones. By enabling us to dialogue and share experiences, we are able to forge bonds even across cultures, erase distrust, and build  new perceptions of self – a new sense of self worth, a sense of identity and oneness with others. The latter are critical in building a world of tolerance and respect for one another

Over the years, I have found new discoveries in Facebook — deepened pride in oneself and in one’s country, forged relationships, experienced spontaneous sharing, found   new-found freedom to communicate,  as well as deepened feelings of compassion, kindness,  and empathy.

Among some examples, my discovery that a  nephew had cooking skills and that sharing recipes with others had given his self-esteem a big boost. Through Facetime, Messenger, and Facebook,  I continue to enjoy my connectedness with nieces and nephews, step-children and their children. I re-discovered old friends, colleagues, and former graduate students in the 1970s to 80s  from the University of Hawaii, UP, AIJC etc.  I hadn’t heard from many of them all these years as they had re-located in various countries of the world. But lo, and behold, through Facebook, we discovered that nothing had changed in our relationship. We’ve just grown a few wrinkles, gray hair, and become less mobile.

To sum up, the challenge now is to become countervailing forces in a world where democracy, multiculturalism, and freedom is threatened by growing populism and authoritarianism. We must continue to harness the positive forces of the “disruptive” technologists to build a more just and humane society.

Today marks the 103rd birth anniversary of my husband Andrew. Happy birthday in heaven Andy!

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