What does it mean to be a global citizen? I’m not sure what the definition is for others, but I know what it is for me: it means that home is everywhere.
I was born in Poland and my husband was born in Turkey. Like me, he grew up in a big city. We have been living in the Netherlands for the last 8 years, since we met. We have a son, Alex, who will turn 3 this year.
We both still have family living in our home countries, as well as in Norway. In Europe, we are fortunate to have longer holidays than people living on other continents. This gives us an opportunity to visit Oslo, Poland and Turkey on regular basis to spend time with family and friends, and take in aspects of the local culture. Whether I am in Oslo, Istanbul or Poznan, my frequent travels have allowed me to know each city very well. I know exactly where to go and which bus to take to be able to get to the city center. I have my favorite restaurants in each place and I know which items are must haves to take back home to my family. In fact, I really need only to take my credit card and passport when I leave the Netherlands, because I have almost everything I need (including my toothbrush!) by visiting one of my homes.
While it is exciting and fun to be able to travel to so many places so frequently, I’m most happy about how being a global citizen has impacted my son, Alex.
He has the opportunity to learn so much about so many different cultures. His favorite foods are Dutch French fries, Polish schnitzel and Turkish börek.
He is aware that appearances are received differently from country to country and that different cultures are known for different traits and qualities. He now knows that because of his blue eyes and blond hair, he is a point of attention in Turkey. He is experiencing firsthand the joys of Turkish friendship, welcoming Polish hospitality and how the Dutch champion tolerance.
He’s having so many diverse experiences, that he’ll be able to pick up the best aspects from each culture and fit them into his own life as he sees fit. And the best gift I’ve been able to give him as a parent? Well, it comes from being a global citizen, too: he currently speaks three languages!
Someday, Alex will realize how lucky he is to be a global citizen. I hope he continues to make the world his home.
Agnieszka Önder is a Bridges Associate currently working as New Product Lead for the Launch Management department. She has worked for Johnson & Johnson for 7 years.