Citizenship is a concept commonly used in the field of youth development. It typically refers to young people being positively engaged in their communities. But what happens when you add global to citizenship?
By adding this word, the scope of youth citizenship grows vastly and helps us re-imagine the arena in which youth live, learn, work and play. Global citizenship has been described as a continuum that ranges from being aware of the interdependent nature of our world, to understanding how local and global issues affect the lives of people around the world, to taking action to create a more equitable world. We see global citizenship as an outlook on life, a belief that people can make a difference, and a way of behaving that follows suit.
Jessica Pierson Russo and I have developed a resource for youth-serving organizations and schools entitled WeConnect: A Global Youth Citizenship Curriculum. It's a program model and curriculum designed to show youth that they are participants in a global society, inspiring a sense of understanding and confidence in relating and connecting to other people.
WeConnect was developed with middle school-aged youth (grades 6-8 and ages 11-14) in mind but can be adapted to suit both younger and older age groups. The program model is designed for nonformal education settings such as after-school programs or clubs. It includes a coordinated series of experiential and interactive exercises that prepare youth to thrive in culturally diverse settings--whether these settings are part of their school day, home life, social life, or workplace--by giving them the opportunity to learn and use culturally responsive skills and knowledge that stem from international education, which is one specific form of cultural education. The curriculum presents lessons that will help guide youth beyond knowing that we are citizens of the globe to an acknowledgement of our responsibilities to each other and the world around us. They help youth examine their everyday lives and move them to take action that leads toward positive change.
The exercises are organized into four phases of building cultural knowledge and skills:
- Phase 1: Exploring
- Phase 2: Stretching
- Phase 3: Challenging
- Phase 4: Connecting
Our publication, WeConnect: A Global Youth Citizenship Curriculum is for sale on the National 4-H website. Thank you to the Minnesota 4-H Foundation for funding this publication.
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