Hello everyone! I hope that the long summer has treated you well. If not, do not worry, there is another one in approximately 9 more months, after 2 more semesters and 2 finals! Unless of course you are a year 4 student, then unfortunately there aren’t any more summers available to you anymore… ☹
Anyway, I am sure you have heard of the term Global-mindedness being thrown around recently. Although there are no hard and fast definitions about what actually constitutes “global-mindedness”, I am sure that most of us would agree that “broadened perspectives”, “knowledge of other cultures”, “caring for the environment” are all relevant characteristics that encompasses it. Global mindedness helps one to become a global citizen. At The Global Citizens' Initiative a global citizen is defined as someone who identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community's values and practices.
So here are some ways that you can improve your global mindedness in your free time!
1. Learn a coding language
To cut through the clutter, I found Youtube to be a great solution to the problem. I began my own endeavor into coding there. I found several Youtube users who uploaded videos on coding that are designed to be intuitive and easy to follow. I chose to learn Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style sheets (CSS) first. These 2 languages are responsible for the outlook of most websites on the internet. Within 2 weeks of following a video series on Youtube by an excellent uploader: EJ Media, I created a basic website on my own. I moved on to Python shortly after. Yes, I am still far from being a master coder, but I have come to understand the basics of coding. It has opened my eyes and provided new perspectives as to how programs on my smartphone and computers work. Having basic knowledge of how coding works allows us to understand the world around us better and provide us a huge stepping stone towards having a well developed global mindset.
EJ Media’s youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-JQzTHQrVA8j-tamvy66fw
Other useful websites: https://www.codecademy.com/
Timothy’s very first website. (It’s a work in progress… )
2. Volunteer Overseas
What better way can you obtain a greater global mindset than to travel the world itself? And what better way to help the world is there than to dedicate your free time and effort to help the less fortunate. Volunteering overseas in less fortunate countries allows us to see how the rest of the world lives and adapts. It not only provides with a greater sense of appreciation for our current lives, but also greater knowledge of how citizens in less fortunate countries manage their lives with limited resources. It provides us inspiration to do better in our daily lives and to share some of our fortunes and talents to help them. There are many programs in NUS that seek to provide you with opportunities to volunteer overseas such as NUS Community Service Club (CSC), AIESEC Singapore, and even volunteer CCAs at the Halls of Residences level.
Just ask Huang Liang, a 22-year old student from our very own NUS, who embarked on a 6-week global volunteer program under AIESEC, which brought her to a jungle in Vietnam that used to be the home to both the Ma and Stieng ethnic minorities. You can check out her full volunteering experience here. After her trip, Huang Liang has become more independent and is now confident in making her own decisions as well as helping others. She initiates more, and tries to venture into the unknown every so often. Huang Liang’s Global Volunteer trio also allowed her to meet exchange participants from all over her world, which made her more interested in hearing different perspectives and stories of others. Upon reflection, she feels that she is now more willing to accept differences in people, realising that people may not understand each other due to different mindsets and upbringings.
Huang Liang looking extremely happy in Vietnam!
Such a unique, memorable and eye-opening experience cannot be substituted with anything else, and should you have spare weeks during your winter or summer, I indeed highly urge you to volunteer overseas. A side benefit of AIESEC’s global volunteer program is the opportunity to volunteer alongside people from other countries, allowing you to make friends from all over the world, allowing you to take yet another step further in becoming a more effective global citizen. Yet another additional perk of making friends all over the world? Savings on accommodation expenses when travelling to a country where your new international friends reside.
AIESEC’s Website: aiesec.org
3. Learning a new language
This should come as no surprise. Learning a new language allows you to communicate with more people from all over the world. And that is not the only benefit. Learning a language inevitably also teaches you more about foreign cultures, as well as make you a more intelligent person overall. If you are unsure which language to take up, I do have a suggestion: Spanish. Firstly, Spanish is closely related to English (if you are able to read this article, then this point is highly relevant to you) both in terms of structure as well as having several words in common. The learning curve for Spanish is therefore less steep than if you decide to learn a symbol-based language such as Chinese or Korean. Therefore it is easier for you to gain momentum through your learning. Secondly, Spanish is widely considered to be the third most spoken language in the world with about 400 million speakers. It is the native language of several countries in South and Central America such as Columbia and Uruguay (Now you can understand the words spoken in Narcos without subtitles), as well as no prizes for guessing: Spain itself. I found that the Duolingo platform is the most convenient and hassle-free when I was beginning my journey in learning Spanish