The Start: Global Citizenship and Expectations

Hi! My name is Nora Kassner, and I’m a rising sophomore on the IGC Student Council. Since we’ve asked Live It! participants to share their engagement with global citizenship on this blog, the Council thought it was only fair that we take part as well and share our own reflections on global citizenship.

This summer, I will be working on Mac’s Roman-era archaeological dig in Israel between May 19th and June 20th this summer, and I hope to post regularly about my experiences.

Going to Israel will interact closely with my conceptions of global citizenship in a couple major ways. Mac’s site, Omrit, is in the Golan Heights, the northernmost part of Israel.  It’s close to both Syria and Lebanon, and not too far from Jordan either. As a result, it’s a site that’s likely to be closely affected by the Arab Spring. What does it mean to be in Israel during the Arab Spring? How do Israeli politics—religion, (usually unfriendly) relationships with neighboring countries, history with the US, internal tension over the future of the country—affect this volatile region? What do some Israelis perceive as the possible consequences of the Arab Spring? I’m hoping that I’ll have a chance while I’m there to ask these questions and begin to understand revolution from the context of a country that is outside these conflicts, yet intimately connected. This part of looking at the region is all the more important for me as someone who is Jewish-American, but in no way pro-Israel. I’m hoping that looking into these questions will help me begin to negotiate my own relationship with Israel and with my cultural and religious background with a fuller understanding of what is at stake.

Right now, global citizenship for me means engaging with the changing face of community in the twenty-first century. Community, from the Latin communis (I’m a Classic major—had to bring this up!) has at its heart the idea of what is public, common, and shared. However, what is shared has changed drastically in the internet age. To some extent, we are all now part of a community because we have access to common information that can make Twitter start a revolution. However, even within this idea of the new public space, the worldwide community, we have myriad histories that intertwine but are not the same. To me, personally, to be a global citizen in the twenty-first century means acting as a witness to history. I believe that we cannot create lasting change without understanding what has come before, what forces have shaped identity and created difference, what parts of a culture’s past are too important to lose. The best way that I can think of for me to contribute as a global citizen is to help myself and others learn about our histories as a first step to enacting meaningful solutions to global problems. This is the work to which I hope I will be contributing in Israel as I help uncover a history of conflict and the politics of empire in the ground of a region filled with modern turmoil.

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