By: Mercedes Fogarassy, PCJ Placement 2017
Having spent five weeks learning about the way that the Mosaic Institute works as a placement student on behalf of the Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies program at the University of Toronto allowed me to broaden my own understanding of what it means to be a global citizen. Being a global citizen has always been an important factor for me in how I live my life, but actually defining it, and understanding its true meaning is more difficult than I thought. Diversity is at the core of the Mosaic Institute’s mission, as it is for global citizenship, which helped me shape my own definition of the idea. My time spent living with a Ugandan family, to meeting youth from 12 different countries at a program in Lucknow, India, to living in Paris, France for a year all broadened my horizons and opened my mind up to embrace different cultures. Additionally, my time spent working locally in Toronto with Mosaic, sharing stories with its members, and helping accomplish the mission the organization has set out to do has equally contributed to my understanding of how global citizenship can be applied globally.
Since I was 10 years old, I have participated in various international experiences that have shaped me into a global citizen, particularly my experience with an international peace education organization, CISV. With this organization I was able to develop leadership skills while experiencing different cultures, interacting with youth from all over the world, and building friendships. One of the memories that most sticks out to me, is from when I was 11 years old; I had just returned from a four week long international camp in India, and I had bonded with other 11 year olds from around the world. Now looking back, it was a real honour to have gotten this opportunity to immerse myself in the culture, and to share new experiences with friends. This definitely helped me develop my intercultural understanding, and taught me to appreciate the value of cultural diversity.
“Learning the importance of intercultural experiences enabled me to become more open-minded to valuing our human differences, and helped shape me into the person I am now, as cliché as it sounds.”
Being a global citizen is really about being able to see beyond borders, nationalities, races, ethnicities, and religion, among all the other barriers society has created to divide people. After grappling with the idea of what it means to be a global citizen, I’ve come to define it as being able to identify with others regardless of where they are from in the world, and to find similarities based on personalities and experiences rather than practices and dispositions. Being a global citizen means we are empowered to take on the challenges and issues that span across the globe, that reach beyond borders, and demand that we participate in movements that are larger than our intimate communities.
Mercedes was a placement student with the Mosaic Institute from the Peace, Conflict and Justice (PCJ) Studies Program at the University of Toronto. She is getting ready to graduate this year with a double major in PCJ and International Relations. She is eager to begin using the skills learned at university in a career related to technology and its uses in the global system. Eventually, Mercedes hopes to further her learning in the realm of international human rights and diplomacy in a graduate program. Mercedes is looking forward to continue working with NGOs who make an impact internationally, and is pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the Mosaic Institute.