Global Citizenship takes SMC beyond its campuses

Santa Monica College is so ethnically diverse that one has to stop and listen to the different students walking around campus. How many languages are spoken on-campus besides English and Spanish? Plenty, considering the 3,100 international students from all over the world, who study at SMC.

This doesn’t take into account the thousands of students coming to SMC from dozens of ethnic communities in the Los Angeles area.

The many ethnic varieties make SMC unique and the Global Citizenship is just an added bonus that promotes awareness to all the diversity.

Whether you compare the city to a melting pot of nationalities, it is nearly impossible to escape the wonderful diversity in Los Angeles.

With SMC’s new Global Citizenship Initiative, the diversity is celebrated through themed discussions and lectures, which bring much-needed global awareness and knowledge to SMC students.

Global Citizenship promotes the understanding of cultures outside the United States, and “attitudes of tolerance and respect for diversity and of anticipation and adaption toward global change; skillful command of the technologies that revolutionize the way we obtain information and interact with each other; and a commitment to act as responsible global citizens through political engagement, entrepreneurship and community service,” according to the SMC Global Citizenship website.

Pete Morris, Global Citizenship co-chair, said the initiative is to “prepare students for the 21st century.”

In a rapidly changing world, adaptation is the most crucial skill anyone can possess.

Not to mention, with adaptation comes acceptance and this is just as important to posses for a better understanding of the world.

SMC students, faculty and staff vote online for a yearly theme that promotes interdisciplinary connections between SMC students.

The idea of the yearly theme is to get everyone discussing the same thing from one class to another.

Past themes were water and food, which were a great success, and this year is Health, Wellness, and the Pursuit of Happiness. It’s a big jump in topics, but it follows the same idea; to get SMC students, faculty, and administrators talking about the world and to explore beyond their familiar scope.

It’s important to comprehend and be aware of global issues and occurrences.

This year’s theme is more abstract than the last two years; it concentrates on the human body and heart, rather than just simple physical needs like food and water. It’s a very broad topic, with two “common books” the Global Citizenship encourages everyone to read:

“Siddhartha,” by Herman Hesse, is a novel about the path to enlightenment, and “Geography of Bliss,” a travel memoir by Eric Weiner. Both books concentrate on finding not just health, but happiness and wellness of the entire being.

In this environment, American apathy towards anything outside our borders is proving harmful, and yet the population proves to be stubbornly uninformed choosing blissful ignorance over vital awareness.

SMC is attempting to work past this by requiring Global Citizenship related courses, replacing a previous American Cultures requirement, and broadening not just the classes a student can take for this requirement, but their minds as well.

So is it working? Well, stop and listen to those languages around you, and look at those faces from around the world.

There’s no doubt Americans are probably among the most globally unaware people around the world.

Going on Google and searching ‘stupid American’ will yield a million results about how Americans barely know there is a world outside America, let alone what is happening in it. The amount of things Americans don’t know about the rest of the world is shocking.

It is possible to become more aware of everything that is happening around the globe. It can be as simple as following international news instead of tuning it out and learning how to read critically instead of accepting what is read to you.

SMC students can learn a lot from the Global Citizenship by following their road to global awareness. Students can also participate in the Student Research Symposium and Tournament by submitting work that they have completed for any of their classes at SMC that promote ideas of global citizenship.

According to the SMC Global Citizenship website, it is important that the Global Citizenship program brings “awareness of the social, cultural, and environmental transformations taking place in our world of unprecedented global interconnection,” said Morris who believes that we have a long way to go for that to happen, and I agree.

But with enough education and dedication, it isn’t impossible.