Multilingualism and Global Citizenship.

Author:Nyathi, Gugulethu Jemaine
Position:Global Citizenship issue

We live in an interconnected world. It is an unquestionable fact. We cannot afford to deny the intricate ties that connect each and every one of our respective worlds. It is clear that despite our established borders, cultures and languages do not and cannot exist entirely independently. The effects and repercussions of decisions made in one part of the world ripple throughout the rest of the planet and affect us all in one way or another. With this in mind, we are made conscious of the immense responsibility held not just by our leaders but also by us as individual citizens. We ought to come to the realization that whatever duties and obligations we have towards our societies they inevitably carry considerable meaning and influence beyond our immediate surroundings.

The concept of global citizenship is one that I believe should now be more prominent than ever. As we bear witness to the effects of our actions on the environment, on our societies and on each other, being aware of the scale of our impact and using this awareness for good is of the utmost value.

Finding ways to build bridges between our diverse cultures, transcend borders and connect nations and peoples, while showing respect and appreciation for their unique differences, may sound like a tall order that many believe has little chance for success. Yet, in the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "... he who is different from me does not impoverish me--he enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves--in Man". (1)

So what role in all this does multilingualism play? I am of the belief that language is and always will be an integral part of any culture and that it holds the key to its foundations. To be in possession of such a key to not only one but to multiple cultures is a potentially powerful tool for peace. In any relationship, in whatever context and on whatever scale, communication is of substantial value. To be able to communicate effectively using different languages is not only instrumental in terms of accurate communication, but the journey of acquiring the skill itself will do wonders for your point of view and levels of appreciation of every culture.

From personal experience, I can attest to the changes in my character and attitude after mastering a new language and consequently learning more about a culture that I thought I already understood. Striving to gain knowledge of languages and cultures beyond what I had seen or been told, I learned...

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