A few months ago, I read an article deriding the use of the term ‘global citizen,’ suggesting that the moniker should no longer be used. And it has really stuck with me. According to the article, the use of this classification is misleading – everyone has citizenship in one country or another, there can be no such thing as a ‘global’ citizen.
I disagree – true, the phrase as a moniker has been used too widely; however, it does classify a specific population of people. A global citizen is a person who has experienced the world; who has lived in multiple countries; who has travelled extensively and has taken time in each place to learn the culture of each group of people. A global citizen is a person who no longer can classify themselves as simply their original nationality, nor can they accurately classify themselves as any of the nationalities in which they have lived. A global citizen is a person stuck in the middle ground – not totally A, but also not totally B. After 18 years of living in the United States, 6 years living in Canada, and assorted months in between living in Australia, Colombia, and Netherlands, I fully classify myself in this middle ground. I am not longer fully an ‘American’ – but neither am I a Canadian (or Australian, Colombian, nor Dutch.) In this strange middle ground, I encapsulate habits of all the countries I have lived and many of the countries I have visited. I still maintain a collection of behaviors from my American upbringing, while also often speaking like a Canadian; I continue to use Australian slang from the months I lived on the Sunshine Coast, while also maintaining habits I learned in the Netherlands. I am, therefore, ultimately placed in the middle ground of not truly being any one nationality – and there is only one title which I can claim: global citizen.
After my time in the Netherlands, I was speaking with a close friend of mine who has also lived in multiple countries and has travelled extensively. I explained to my friend how difficult I found it to describe my nationality – she agreed. She has the same trouble. While she is originally Singaporean, she is also a Canadian. Having grown up in Singapore, she is identifies as Singaporean – but she also was taught at an American school, and has spent the past 7 years in Canada. And she has the same trouble as me – she is not fully classified as any of the nationalities of which she claims. So what is she then? She is as I am – a global citizen. A person who has travelled extensively, lived in multiple countries, and observed the cultures of each place she has lived.
In a time such as the one we live, where people can easily traverse national borders, it is understandable that the idea of ‘global citizen’ can be applied too broadly. Any person who travels, who learns of different cultures in an academic setting, can call themselves a ‘global citizen’. And it is understandable why this over classification could cause problems. That being said, should said person travel, live, and absorb the cultures in which they explore, the moniker of ‘global citizen’ is not a false one – for some people, it is the only moniker to which we apply.
To be honest, before every long trip (and even some short trips) that I’ve taken, I get a little nervous. My heart starts fluttering – have I made enough plans to make sure I have a smooth trip? Is it going to go as planned? Will I like it? Will it be worth it? I’m traveling to a completely unknown area, and I am all alone, is this a good idea? Should I just cancel? If my flight gets delayed or cancelled, is it a blessing in disguise? Should I just stay home?
These thoughts have consumed my mind before every trip I have taken; when I was 14, flying off to 8 days in Japan with my middle school, I was so nervous I thought I would do something terrible wrong and cause an international incident. No joke. My mother spent hours calming my down from a full-out, crying-so-hard-I-couldn’t-speak freak out. But, just like mom said, I did not actually cause an international incident (would that even have been possible? Probably not).
The thoughts happened when I flew to Greece and Italy a few years later, and when I went to Australia the year after – and the year after that. They happened when I flew out to UBC for the first time (although, let’s be honest, who doesn’t freak out a little when they move all the way across the country, into a totally different country, where you know absolutely no one?) Even when I was going to Europe in October, my heart was fluttering. As I was rushing to the airport, wondering if I’d be late to my flight, the thought crept into my mind – ‘well, if I miss the flight, I can just stay here. Thats a lot less scary than two months, alone, traveling all across Europe.’
As I laid in my bed last night, the thoughts crept back in – ‘What if the fake-gun-fiasco (as I have now named it; if you don’t know what I mean, read my last blog post) means I can’t fly? Then I’ll just stay home. I might kill my parents after, but 6 weeks here is a LOT less scary than 6 weeks in place I have never been…’ But despite my heart beating rapidly and my mind nervously wondering what the next 6 weeks have in store for me (and despite the fake-gun-fiasco), I boarded my flight into the unknown, defeating the anxiety bubbling in the pit of my stomach, and started my next Grand Adventure!
Fear of the unknown affects even the most seasoned travelers, but giving into that fear means you miss some of the most exciting adventures the world can offer!
Whenever someone asks me, “Where are you from?” My response is rarely ‘the United States of America.’ More often than not, I will quickly answer ‘North Carolina’, assuming that whoever has asked will know that NC is part of the USA. This is a strange habit, though – when asked where they are from, most people will normally respond with the country, not the state or city in which they live(d). Any people who know me will also know: I often have to explain the strange behaviors United States citizens have. This is one of them.
So this leads me to my point. Why do I always answer ‘North Carolina’ first? In short – the struggle between the federalists and anti-federalists has left a lasting impression on the American people (especially the South, where most of the anti-federalists were from – ask me about it if you want another history lesson). So now: first and foremost, I see myself as a North Carolina native, born and bred within driving distance of both the breathtaking Appalachian mountains (Canadians – APP-AH-LATCH-EN, not that stupid/wrong way you pronounce it!), and the awe-inspiring Outer Banks.
Moreover, my mother’s family, the Scott Family, was one of the first to settle in NC, and established themselves as one of the most prominent families in NC. In edition to owning huge farms in Alamance County, the Scotts established schools across NC (my name sake, Elizabeth Scott Carrington, helped raise the funds for UNC’s Nursing School, which is why there is Carrington Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill). The Scotts were also pillars in the Medical Community (my grandfather was in the first graduating class at UNC’s Dental school, and my great-grandfather delivered over 6,000 babies in his lifetime – including my childhood best friend’s mother) and devoted themselves to public service (my great-uncle Kerr Scott and his son Robert Scott both served as governors of NC). Robert (Bob) Scott was the governor who “oversaw the creation of the 16-campus University of North Carolina system” and worked heavily to make post-secondary education accessible for all in NC. The Scott family were also huge into religion – Samuel Scott and his wife Nancy Bryan Scott helped start the Hawfields Presbyterian Church in 1755, a church which is still in existence today (it is where all the Scott Family is buried). So, as you can see, my family has a tonof history in North Carolina. No wonder I recognize myself as a North Carolinian first, right?
All of these horrible things happening to the state my family helped create truly breaks my heart… So, over the summer, I made a choice. It became a reality to me that I would not be returning home, because – to be honest – this current North Carolina does not feel like home. But the current North Carolina is not the real North Carolina, in my opinion. The real North Carolina is the 250 years of progressive history that the Scott family helped contributed to. The real North Carolina is the one whose government representatives value its people over the representative’s party politics. The real North Carolina fights for democracy, and sets examples for the rest of the nation on how to prevent discrimination – not how to implement it (I don’t like cursing in blogs but I’mma say it – fuckHB2 and NC’s extremely unconstitutional voter ID laws.) The real North Carolina believes in accessible, quality education for all. Because education is not a privilege of the elite, it is a necessity for a country to succeed.The real North Carolina understands this – the current North Carolina does not.
So in September of this year, I decided to get a tattoo: my North Carolina, the real North Carolina, on my side by my heart, as a symbol of my love for the state and my hope that one day the real North Carolina will return.
Now, to be honest, after the past few months, I really question whether the real NC canreturn. But I am sure of two things – James Taylor’s song ‘Carolina In My Mind’ will always remind me of home, and my tattoo will always remind me that NC once was a progressive state, and maybe, one day, we can be one again (electing Roy Cooper was a great start! Attempting to remove his ability to govern, on the other hand, not so much…)
Like yesterday, today was a pretty emotional day not only for myself but for many Americans. Why? Because the overwhelming amount of emotions which flooded into our hearts as we saw protesters – both American and not – around the world meet together to advocate for rights which the Trump administration has threatened to remove.
Originally I had intended to travel to Washington DC and stand with my fellow ‘Nasty Women’ today, but as any readers of my blog will know – life does not go as I originally plan most of the time. So instead, in a bit of a spur-of-the-moment decision, my close friend and I ended up at the Vancouver edition of the march. And let me say now – I’m 100% surprised I wasn’t balling within 5min (I nearly was; I had to fight back tears all day).
Why would I cry at a protest shrouded in controversy around the globe for ‘lacking inclusion’ – whether it be of pro-life individuals in the US, or of Black Lives Matter individuals in Vancouver? Because it isn’t about the organizers. It’s about the hundreds of thousands (most likely millions) of people around the globe who care so deeply about the rights my fellow Americans and I risk losing that they showed up in droves to support our Resistance. Because it proves that hatred and fear are not the rules of the day; it shows that many – not only in my nation but world wide – are standing together to support one another in our darkest of days. Because I know that if my rights are taken away, there are hundreds of thousands of people who will help in the fight to get them back – just like I will if this new administration attempts to remove rights from any black, muslim, LGBTQ+, disabled, or underprivileged people. Because humanity has not been lost, like I have been fearing since the election, but rather it has been pushed under a rug by spiteful rhetoric and now it is kicking and screaming to be set free once again. Because by every account it is clear that more people have shown up today for this display of camaraderie than they did yesterday to watch the malevolent leader be sworn in. Because no matter how terrible I feel, no matter how scared I am, I know there are people out there who will support me as I will with them.
To be honest, all I’ve wanted to do all day is go home and hug my loving dog, who unfortunately is only in my heart and memories anymore. And it is days like today that I remember how much that really truly sucks. But seeing the support that these marches have shown – that make it suck just a little bit less.
I’ll end with three of my favorite signs today:
Our security lies in our fight for the rights of all.
We know most of you didn’t want this!
And my ultimate favorite:
When he comes for the women, I am a woman.
When he comes for the Muslims, I am a Muslim.
When he comes for the Mexicans, Soy Mexicano.
When he comes for the refugees, I am a refugee.
When he comes for the environment, I am the trees and the mountains.
On this dark day in American history, I struggle like many of my fellow citizens.
It hurts – truly hurts – to know that my country has chosen a man so morally deplorable; a man caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women, as if it is his right to have any woman he wants simply because he is rich; a man who has bragged that he settled a lawsuit for fraud for less than what the plaintiffs should have gotten; a man so against my values I can’t even hear him speak without cringing.
It devastates me that this man has now gained the title of ‘leader of the free world’ when he has infringed on so many people’s rights throughout his life.
It terrifies me that I could lose not only my access to healthcare – potentially losing either my livelihood from medical bills or my life from a treatable illness which I cannot afford to treat – but also my right to do with my body as I wish.
It saddens me to think that so many Americans may (and most likely will) lose so many of our rights in this short period of time, rights that will take much longer than four years to gain back.
It shocks me that nearly 63 million Americans actively chose to vote for a man they knew would limit the rights of their fellow citizens.
It crushes me that our system has been set up so that a man who did not gain the majority of the vote could still become the leader of our nation – despite having over two million less votes than his opposition.
It astonishes me that such a vital election had the lowest voter turnout in 20years, with about 45% of the American people ignoring their right to vote – a right that thousands have fought and died for.
It horrifies me that this new leader almost immediately erased civil rights, climate change, and LGBT rights from the ‘issues’ that the whitehouse.gov website addresses, disregarding the lives lost in the quest for our country to address these vital topics.
It pains me that all the progress we have made will be destroyed, sending our country back to dark days when only white men were truly given the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And it angers me that there has been so little push back, that there are so many people have apathetically decreed ‘well it is only four years’ or ‘he’ll be impeached so its fine,’ with some people even going so far as to say that an assassination of Trump would be better than a Hillary presidency.
I’m scared. I’m honestly freaking terrified. I don’t know what to think, I don’t know what to feel. I don’t feel safe in the country I once loved and supported with all my heart. Now? Every new update I see about my nation sends a stabbing pain through my heart, causing fiery balls of salty water to well in my eyes which threaten to go speeding down my face for hours on end. How could a country once so great give in to such fear and hatred? How can my rights be removed because others in my nations think theirs are more important? How do I continue to call myself American when I feel anything but that?
I am lost. I am in pain. I am bewildered, feeling as if I have been forsaken by my homeland. And I remember – I’m a white woman from a middle class family – if I feel this terrible, how do those at higher risk for discrimination feel? Do they want to curl in a ball and weep as badly as I do? What will happen to them, if this country of ours has already started stripping my rights away and it’s barely been twelve hours? How can I help them, if I cannot even protect my own rights?
But most of all, I’m truly heartbroken. I said it on election day, and I will say it again – this is not my America. This is not the country I know and loved. This is a country I no longer recognize. Trump will never be my president. I will fight with the Resistance. I will never give in to the fear and hatred that this man wants my nation to rebuild itself upon. And I will always support those in need, regardless of their sexuality, race, ethnicity, immigration status, or religious beliefs.
But today – today I’m going curl into a ball and weep for the future of the nation I once loved. For today is a dark day, and it is truly hard to see the end of this devastatingly scary tunnel.
A few weeks ago, while sitting in a hostel room with my new friends Daisy and Jess, I received an email that blew up my life plan for the next year and a half. My new unfortunate reality: the teaching program I was set to participate in while in Colombia has been cancelled for this year.
As I am sure many other people have experienced, life likes to throw curveballs at times when you really can’t do anything about them, just to mess with your mind a little more. And since I really couldn’t do anything at 8pm on Halloween night, despite being fairly devastated and in complete shock, my new friends and I went out for drinks and I put off figuring out my life for a few days.
After 23 years on this earth, I pretty much view life and the world as a giant maze. And I am wondering around, trying to find the way out to the riches on the other side (history lesson: in greek mythology, those who made it out of the minotaur’s maze were rewarded by becoming the hero of the castle; in my maze, the other side is having a career I like, money and time to travel, and general happiness). Only, this maze is like a 21st century, high-tech, crazy-ass one with booby traps around every corner. In my imagination, this looks like the arenas in the Hunger Games where the game maker – eg Life – throws challenges at the ‘contestant’ – eg me – to make it more ‘fun.’ All while the greek gods sit in their leather reclining chairs up above, watching intently (I imagine they laugh at my [many] misadventures.) And as I was following the path labeled ‘Fun Year Teaching English In Colombia,’ life decided to set off a giant bomb, destroying the pathway and sending me running for my life Katniss-style, back to where I started.
So here I am, finally away from the detonation zone, sitting in a crossroads, treating my wounds and trying to figure out what I should do now. I could go back towards working in Colombia (avoiding the detonation zone by going through a different company and program this time. Downside – no matter what, I can’t start until March.) I could also possibly go with the same company on a different program to privately tutor students, but that just feels too close to the denotation zone for comfort…
As I am looking into how to travel down the Colombia path again, while circumnavigating the detonation zone, I see there is another, overgrown doorway leading to a pathway with an old and aged sign saying ‘Colombian Adventure Minus a Job.’ What would I do if I take this path? Take one or two months ‘living’ in Colombia, hanging out with my best friend in Bogota, exploring South America and perfecting my Spanish – only without having a job there….my wallet is screaming ‘Whhyyyyy?!?!?’ but the blown up bushes down the other path definitely have my brain thinking ‘hmmm…. Better plan? Maybe.’
And then one of the patron gifts comes flying down from the sky. While in Luxembourg, completely stressed out and attempting to figure out my life, I ran into a group of graduate students – half from King’s College in London, and the other half from the London School of Economics. As it turns out, the girls at King’s are studying exactly the type of thing I want to study in graduate school. And, unlike the other grad schools I had been looking at, King’s is only a one-year commitment with a very reasonable price tag.
Whoosh. A piece of the green wall in front of me goes flying down, revealing another pathway in my maze – “Masters in London.” And with this pathway, I can take a side route down to Colombia, while also getting to visit some friends around North America. My wallet and my savings are both now screaming ‘WHHHYYYYYY???? Nooooooooooooooooooo. Moonnneeeyyyyy.’ But my brain is thinking ‘You know, that really might be the best option.’
To be perfectly honest, I am still sitting at that crossroad. My wallet and savings are fighting with my brain, while my phone-a-friend style advisors (family, friends, random new friends I have met on my adventures) are leaning me more towards graduate school. And I keep getting patron gifts flying down from the sky that open little excursions along the different pathways. Plus: the situation in my home nation definitely doesn’t help (my heart is throwing its hat in the ring, arguing I should stay in the states and help with the rebellion against the racist/sexist/xenophobic policies sure to come out of our newly appointed white supremacy government).
So at this current point I really can’t say where I will be in 3 months. But the one thing I would like to announce is, since I now have no commitments until at least mid-march, my dear friends in Vancouver will get to see me for longer than originally planned. And I may need a job in Vancouver for January to May, if anyone knows of one! (I am sorry y’all, but there is absolutely no way in hell I’ll spend another summer in Vancouver. It is too damn cold there☃️😑 I’m not sure where yet, but I’m 100% sure I am flying south for the summer. It’s better for [what is left of] my sanity.)
Also, friends in NYC and DC, I am planning on visiting in early January! Before heading back to Vancouver. So message me if you would like to meet up!
When the US election results first rolled in, it was about 5am in Prague. I honestly couldn’t sleep that night, and my facebook/snapchat/whatsapp was filled with messages from friends around the globe commiserating at the election results. So when my dad said ‘Trump won’ all I could think is ‘….No.’ A few friends even messaged me to ask if I was okay, knowing how much I adore my nation and how completely devastated I am to see such hatred and fear fuel the largest miscarriage of justice we have seen since before the Civil Rights Movement.
That day will always be remembered by me as one of the worst days in American history, and in my lifetime (and trust me, I’ve had a ton of bad days, so this is really saying something). Why was it so bad? Because it was the day that I truly questioned why I have chosen to remain American. I have lived in Canada 5 years, I have a 3-year work visa there, I can become a resident and later a citizen. And to be perfectly honest, my first reaction was to do just that. And part of me still wants to. But then I saw something that I care about more than being ashamed of my nation – my facebook feed has been filled with detailed accounts of homophobic, racist, xenophobic and sexists attacks on my fellow citizens – some even to close friends, and not just within the borders of the United States. Anyone who knows me at all knows I am one of the most protective people on this earth – you hurt my friends, you hurt me. So this is one thing I cannot and will not stand by and watch idly, whether I know those being discriminated against or not.
No – I do not feel like this is my America. No – this is not the country I know and love. Yes – I am still ashamed to be American, and have still told those who ask where I am from that I am from Canada. But does that mean I am going to leave the US? No. Because another thing I saw – those who voted for Trump want the liberals to leave. They want the liberals and minorities to stay quiet and allow them to ‘cleanse’ our population. What I realized is – if we leave, if we pack up and say we are done, if we stay quiet and allow the horrific proposals of Trump to be passed, we will have failed those discriminated against a second time. And I, for one, am too ashamed that we failed them once to let it happen again.
So my conclusion – I still haven’t decided whether: a) I will stay in the US and volunteer with every organization possible to protect the rights of the US citizens, and the immigrants and refugees who came to our country hoping for a better future; or b) I will go abroad for more schooling (because the reason I didn’t this year is I can’t afford US graduate schools, but I can afford international graduate programs – another extremely big problem in our nation, which is absolutely deplorable: how can we expect to remain a world power if our citizens can’t afford a good education?) so I can come back and fight for the rights of my fellow citizens, immigrants, and the refugees who have feared so greatly for their lives that they risked everything to come to a nation which is treating them like the very people they were fleeing from. But one thing is for sure: I am an American liberal, and I will do everything in my power to fight for the rights of the the immigrants, refugees, and my fellow citizens – all of which do not deserve the hell we have put them through in this past week.
And for those following my blog – Yes I will still be posting about my travels, but I am also starting a series of political posts. It is up to you whether you wish to read them or not.
Today I decided to feed my inner International Relations nerd by visiting a series of museums dedicated to WWII and the Holocaust – including the Anne Frank House. Pretty sobering experiences on their own, they were made even more so by the striking similarities between the events of WWII and those of today.
A few years ago, during one of the many Model United Nations conferences I have attended, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting a wonderful person named Carlos Arango – a Colombian native who has since then inspired my upcoming move to his native country.