Marina Cherbonnier, CIVICUS membership engagement specialist and Bridge 47 steering group member.
Do you consider yourself as a citizen of the world? Alternatively, do you feel uncomfortable, threatened or simply blank when hearing the term “global citizenship”? It fascinates me that the concept is crystal clear to some but does not resonate at all with others. It largely depends on the experience and exposure we have of the world - but not only.
In the highly conceptual world that “International Development” evolves in, there is a project called Bridge 47. It works towards providing “global citizenship education” for all as a means towards building a world that is fair and resilient. The name “Bridge 47” resonates with the “SDG 4.7” framework: the 4th Sustainable Development Goal on Education for All, of which item 7 focuses on global citizenship education.
Learning to be a citizen of the world, in brief, is to grow the consciousness that everything is connected. For instance, child labour is not far from you if you buy products prepared by children. Learning to be a citizen of the world means building the spirit and competencies to make day-to-day decisions and actions that will have a positive impact on ourselves, our communities and the rest of the world all together.
2-4 October 2018 marked the first gathering of Bridge 47 staff and steering group – which CIVICUS has been a part - since the launch of the project. The objective was to take stock of the project’s progress since then. We identified challenges and addressed them on a strategic and practical level, by looking at the four aspects of the project: innovation, advocacy, networking and partnership. It also brought together a hundred potential partners to strengthen the network around the project.
The event gathered a fascinating group of diverse, international and enthusiastic people driven by social values and principles, and convinced about the power of working together. Most importantly, Global Citizenship (and my job) took all its meaning when appreciating how the CIVICUS delegation of members present united spontaneously as a family, despite their differences. Take Khurram: a senior monitoring and evaluation expert from Pakistan, Claudia: a young student in special education from Angola, Jamil: a SDG educational program implementer from Palestine. Their only apparent similarity was in their work on education. They bonded immediately and used each other as safety net while engaging with other participants.
Over the past 10 years of working with international networks, it is precisely the connection that operates amongst members that has nurtured my faith for universal peace and care. The sense of belonging that a global community spurs is magical. CIVICUS membership IS global citizenship in spirit and practice.
Yet, what strikes me is that those of us who have been convinced about the necessity of working collectively are yet to identify how to do this in a more efficient and cohesive way. How do we move from less “Blabla” to more “Boom Boom”, as eloquently put by one of my previous partners? As long as we stay in our own conceptual sphere, with our own language, how far will we go? How do we translate ideas into concrete actions? “How do we get real?” It is time to move from convincing ourselves of the need to work together. Implementing activities and showing what global citizenship means in practice are the next steps for Bridge 47 in 2019 onward. Stay tuned.