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Even as Singapore, along with the rest of the world, gradually eases into weeks of coronavirus confinement, one area remains firmly shut: international borders, which few governments are yet daring to open. While this remains necessary to curb the virus' transmission, global citizenship has taken a particularly bad hit. This is because global citizenship is largely driven by world travel, which encourages individuals to view the world through a new lens. Even though dates for the reopening of borders are still up in the air, your journey to becoming a global citizen doesn't have to stop. Below, find out how you can still gain global consciousness and cultural empathy–right from the comfort of your home.
Learn To Cook New Foods From Other Cultures
Food operates as an expression of cultural identity; it reflects a country’s unique history, lifestyle, values, and beliefs. For example, in China, harmony is a vital trait in almost every aspect of life. This is reflected in Chinese cuisine, where almost every flavour–salty, spicy, sweet, and bitter–are used to create balanced, delicious meals. Food's importance with regards to culture is also exemplified in France, where food is almost considered sacred. As such, French will only use the freshest, best-quality ingredients they can afford. In their culture, eating is a celebration of both the food itself and the meal company. That's why people put away their phones and don’t look at the clocks during meal-times–a practice you can adopt to improve emotional connections with your family members during this period.
Ultimately, one of the easiest ways to learn about another country’s culture is through its food. You can do so by learning how to cook new foods from other cultures. There are many paid options available (e.g. Masterclass, The Chef and The Dish, and Udemy), but if you’re budget-conscious, there are also many free YouTube tutorials and blog articles available.
Get A PenPal From Another Country
Pen pals are great if you enjoy writing and want to get to know someone and their culture. Besides, it also helps you to stay socially connected, which can prove to be helpful during this isolating period. Through your exchanges, you’ll have the chance to see what life is like from their point of view–thus expanding your awareness of the world. You can also learn about interesting customs, the best dishes to try (and maybe cook), and even a foreign language through your pen pal.
There are platforms (e.g. InterPals, PenPal World, and Postcrossing) to help you find a penpal, so you don’t have to randomly drop direct messages to people on Instagram. Have fun, but don’t forget to take precautions–not everyone is who they say they are on the Internet. A good precaution to take would be to create an email address specifically for such correspondence, for example.
Take Online Courses To Understand Global Citizenship On A Deeper Level
Global citizenship is about more than understanding a new culture. To become a true global citizen, you must also be aware of your role in the wider world and perhaps even reach out to fight social injustice at local and global levels. If you're willing to put in the effort, you can make the world a more sustainable place through your actions. To understand your responsibilities as a global citizen, you can enrol into online courses (e.g. Coursera, Global Citizenship Education and University of Bristol) that cover global citizenship in greater detail. The knowledge you gain enables you to not only do your part but also educate others.
Ultimately, Being A Global Citizen Is More Than Traveling
Just because you can’t travel, doesn’t mean that you can’t become a global citizen. At the end of the day, you can make the most of social distancing measures by making the effort to learn as much as you can in the comforts of your home. The borders will be reopened one day–and you can be ready for the vast world beyond.