Shisla: U21 Global Citizenship Course (October 2020)

The programme I took was the Global Citizenship programme, which took me about 9 hours in total to complete. Most of this was done through asynchronous activities, and we had 2 1-hour sessions where we met with other participants from around the world. Despite the short amount of time, this programme was incredibly enjoyable and very insightful. The asynchronous activities included thought-provoking material and activities, where I got to know more about myself and the world around me. The two live sessions included a zoom call with over 2000 participants from all around the world. In breakout rooms, we would discuss our Goals, what the course has taught us and how we are going to work towards achieving our goal.

The interesting part for me was finding out about why people choose specific goals, what they have been doing about it, and what they will continue to do. This made me feel that although the world is so large, many people go through the same thing, have the same goals, etc.

The biggest challenge of the programme, for me, was to ‘create’ the time to participate in the live sessions – although this was also hardly a challenge. Because the program was only 2-3 hours a week and could be done in your own time, I personally did not feel that it was a strain, and felt very comfortable balancing it with my other commitments. However, the live sessions were a given time and date, that did not suit me. The good thing about this was that it was not mandatory to participate in both, however it was something that I really wanted to do. Hence, I managed to extend my lunch break at work to participate, and it flowed fine! I suppose another thing that I should mention, which wasn’t necessarily a challenge for me; is the cross-cultural aspect of the live session. I got put in a breakout room of about 10 people, all from different backgrounds. Because I have done a course on communication styles, I found it interesting to ‘read’ the way in which other participants communicated. However, I am mentioning this because I saw that some people found challenging to adapt to other’s communication styles: some cultures tend to be quite shy, while others are quite loud, and if the conversation is not managed appropriately there is risk that a couple of people will be dominating.

Some of the skills I developed through this experience were critical thinking, cross-cultural collaboration, and intercultural communication. Having heard of experiences I would have never learned of throughout my business degree, my mind was opened to how many simultaneous things are happening throughout the world, and how insignificant I am. This may sound gloomy, but it is definitely necessary for a student that immerses themselves in their own life so intensely without sometimes seeking an external communal purpose. It makes you think that what you do in your life is not just for you, it is for all of those around you. And I believe that this is a very special feeling; to feel apart of something bigger than you can even imagine. This made me motivated to work harder throughout my studies and pursue better opportunities, not only to benefit myself, but also to assist in developing the wider world.

Lisa: U21 Global Citizenship Course (October 2020)

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

― Margaret Mead.

2020 and its entourage of lockdowns, restrictions and other treats has undoubtedly made us all feel a bit helpless. With the “I’m going to change the world” passion that engulfed us at the beginning of the year slowly fading away, I decided to apply for the U21 Global Citizenship program. I had heard of the United Nations Sustainability goals, but only as a faraway concept with no real life application. Throughout the course, I quickly became aware that this is not the case.

I learned a lot through the different modules, but most eye-opening to me was how many other people were in the same position as me. Students from all around the world, from different backgrounds and walks of life and holding various different beliefs and values all wanted to play a part in leaving the world in a better place when we found it. It instilled in me a new confidence that despite all the lunacy going on in the world, hope is still found where we need it the most: in collaboration to solve our common problems. We might hold different opinions and viewpoints, but one skill that I learned from the course is that it’s okay to admit when you’re wrong and to have the courage to pick up a different viewpoint when learning new information. I’m not trying to downplay the difficulty that lies in swallowing you pride but rather want to stress the greater good that comes out of it, something you that will become very evident in taking this course.

In terms of advice that I would give to anyone interested in taking this course, I just want to say: Go for it, but do so with an open mind. Sure, you can go through the different modules focused on what you believe and ignore the comments of other people, but that isn’t going to get you very far. It’s in learning to work with others that we can make a change, and this course is the perfect place to get started on that. Learn to engulf yourself in the different goals and find one specific goal that speaks to you the most and then use your newly found passion and drive to make it a reality.