At the ripe age of 16, this small town girl attended HOBY’s World Leadership Congress. In just one week, I met 400+ students from across the globe with a common desire to learn, connect, and act. My mind engaged, my heart burning, a fire lit under my feet, I began walking my path to global citizenship. My world was forever changed. The journey called me to first dive in locally, then took me across the globe to a now infamous city called Wuhan, and then back home – Just in time!
Global citizenship is core to our work at the World Leadership Congress and essential to fostering 21st century leadership. In our recruitment efforts, I often throw this term around lightly as if everyone is as fired up about it as I am… that was… until two weeks ago. And then, I was forced to pause and reflect further.
In the midst of a global pandemic, it feels ironic advocating the importance of global citizenship. Wasn’t it our global interdependence that’s made us vulnerable to this situation? The natural response to what we are experiencing is to fear the outside, to close up, to put up walls. We’ve already experienced closed borders, lock-downs, social distancing, and home quarantines. It seems inevitable that protectionist and isolationist rhetoric will find its way on more lips as we move forward.
We wholeheartedly affirm the measures that have been taken to slow the spread of the virus. In fact, abiding by these policies is indeed an act of Global Citizenship. Nonetheless, we believe that now, more than ever before, we have an obligation to come together (albeit virtually) over shared values to spread kindness, bridge divides, reflect, take a stance, and do our part to build a better future for all.
HOBY’s leadership curriculum is built on the 3 phases of the social change model – personal leadership, group leadership, and societal leadership. At the World Leadership Congress, we’ve utilized UNESCO’s Global Citizenship objectives and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to expand the leadership framework to add a global dimension. In doing so, we are in the business of developing forward thinking, 21st century leaders.
From these distinct perspectives of leadership, we’d like to share what we believe leadership should look like at a time like this. After all, leaders are those who make the best decision possible, given the known factors and potential impacts on each stakeholder in each situation.
Personal leadership involves a consciousness of self, a congruence and commitment to individual values (Astin, H. S. and Astin, A. W., 1996). It’s about recognizing the unique intersection of traits, strengths, values, identities, skills, and experiences that one exhibits and how these inform one’s perspective and position as a leader. Put simply, it’s about who we are and how we make decisions.
Ask any flight attendant and they will confirm this fundamental truth – we cannot properly care for others without first caring for ourselves. In an uncertain season where the entire world is experiencing physical, psychological, economic, and spiritual trauma, we must care for ourselves. It’s the only way we can remain healthy and effective.
We’ll post many self-care tips in the coming season, but for now, start by creating a list of resources you can use to keep you in a healthy space. A resource might be a person that brings you joy, a place you can envision, an animal that brings you comfort, a spiritual guide, a faith construct, a happy memory, a hobby that gives you energy… anything that helps you feel better (Miller-Karas, E., 2015).
- Write down 3 resources.
- Circle one that you can practice using
- Write out a few more details about that resource.
- Meditate on it.
- Notice how you feel. Are there any changes in your body?
- Can you locate the tension in your body while envisioning your resource?
- Has any tension released?
- If it makes you feel better, hold on to it!
- If it doesn’t, it’s not your fault… find something else that works!
Group leadership involves collaboration, coming together over a common purpose, and engaging in controversy with civility (Astin, H. S. and Astin, A. W., 1996). We believe the ability to engage in active listening is a fundamental skill of a leader. With a little self-knowledge and tools to unpack the core of what someone else is saying, we can dive into their values and hopefully come to some common place or at the very least agree to respect each other’s perspective.
Since we’re all stuck at home, this may be a good time to connect or reconnect with folks who look a little different than you or who live in a different place.
- Ask them what their COVID-19 experience looks like and how it’s impacting their lives.
- Reflect on what you can learn from their experience and how you can practice empathy towards their situation.
Societal leadership involves analyzing the values held at a community level and identifying any areas in which some folks have been left behind (Astin, H. S. and Astin, A. W., 1996). Our societies across the globe have responded with incredible leadership. Health care workers have sacrificed their bodies fighting on the front lines. Teachers have transformed their entire classroom with less than 3 days notice. Public officials have made tough but necessary decisions to halt activity as we know it. Still, much work needs to be done. Who are those in your community that are most vulnerable? Are their needs being cared for? Do they have access to the services they need to survive?
During this season, we have a unique opportunity to:
1. Become an ally for folks that are more vulnerable during this season. Think about those who are experiencing homelessness, those in abusive home situations, those who have lost their jobs, those who are struggling with mental health issues, those who have a pre-existing health condition, immigrant populations, the elderly. What can we do to listen and advocate for these folks?
2. Reflect on what is most important. Is it possible that the universe is asking us to slow down, let the earth rest, focus on those around us, stop doing for a short season? Let’s start a conversation about what we can learn from this. What should stick? What should we get rid of? What is true? What is not? (McBride, H., McHargue, M., Matthews, W., Gungor, M., 2020).
3. Learn to collectively grieve. We are collectively experiencing an immense amount of loss and will continue to. What will it look like for us to be able to grieve together the loss of people, ease, ideas, and systems? (McBride, H., McHargue, M., Matthews, W., Gungor, M., 2020).
Oxfam (n.d.) defines a global citizen as one who is aware of the wider world and their place in it. Global citizenship requires leaders to develop the ability to apply problem-solving frameworks to complex sustainability problems. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (n.d.) allow young leaders the opportunity to identify global issues that they’d like to explore further and consider what they can do about them now. We believe collective action and global contribution can be taken towards any issue on a local level. In this case, staying at home is a responsible action we can all take to fight a global health pandemic. In doing so, we are foregoing our immediate and individual needs and internalizing costs for the sake of the collective good. This is global citizenship.
During this time of quarantine, we invite you to:
1. Identify a global issue that you can learn more about
2. Reflect on how other countries are responding to the epidemic. What does a nation-wide response reveal about collectively held values?
This is an unprecedented season, one marked with all kinds of uncertainty. It is in times of difficulty that leaders emerge. As a global community passionate about leadership and social change, we hope to rise to the occasion. We will share more about each of these ideas in the coming weeks, and we invite all those who are willing to join us as we take a stand to demonstrate who we are.
Are you a like-minded leader ready to embody a novel kind of leadership? Share this post, take on the challenge that most resonates with you, and tell us how it went!
Written by Abby Wheeler
HOBY WLC 2020 International Recruitment Director
Astin, H. S. and Astin, A. W. (1996). A Social Change Model of Leadership Development Guidebook Version III. The National Clearinghouse of Leadership Programs.
Miller-Karas, E., (2015). Building Resilience to Trauma. The Trauma and Community Resiliency Models. Routledge Taylor & Francis group. New York and London.
Oxfam (n.d.) What is Global Citizenship Education. Retrieved from: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/who-we-are/what-is-global-citizenship
McBride, H., McHargue, M., Matthews, W., Gungor, M. (2020). COVID-19: The Science, How to Help, and Handling the Stress. The Liturgists Podcast. Published on March 18, 2019. Retrieved from: https://theliturgists.com/podcast/covid-19
Sustainable Development Goals (n.d.) Retrieved from: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs