Global Citizenship Starts at Home
The largest sporting event in the world is happening right now. Sorry America, I am not talking about the Super Bowl. For the first (and likely only) time ever, the FIFA World Cup is being held in November. Taking place every four years, soccer’s World Cup is the largest sporting event in the world, pulling together national teams from around the world. It offers four weeks of incredible soccer, atmosphere, and sportsmanship. And if you follow the tournament (including but not limited to the matches) you’ll see one of the WASC’s leadership standards on full display:
Citizenship is the WASC Leadership Standard for December, with the benchmark of ensuring “students understand ways to positive contribute to national and global communities.” Woven throughout our programs and curriculum is instruction about how students can influence their communities, take an active role in happenings around them, and participate in service to others. And though the World Cup is a large (and extreme) case of “global communities”, it isn’t the tournament itself that provides the learning, but rather the moments created by the gathering.
- It's in the Iranian player who, after being eliminated from the tournament for which he has worked his entire life, spends minutes in a tearful embrace with the midfielder of the team that just beat him.
- It’s in the Japanese fans who, true to their cultural norms, spend time after each match cleaning the stadium they are in. Not just their section – the entire stadium.
- It’s in the celebration of fans around the world when a massive underdog like Saudi Arabia shocks the world and beats a WC powerhouse Germany.
I have lived this firsthand. I was travelling in Dubai during the 2014 World Cup (taking place in Brazil). Our hotel restaurant was a very popular local gathering place to watch soccer matches and due to the time difference, the first match in Brazil started at 12am Dubai time. I will never forget spending my evening talking, laughing, and bonding with Saudi, Qatari, and Emerati fans. And though the English was broken, and our conversation wasn’t always fully understood by everyone at the table, we had a common language that night: soccer (specially cheering for Croatia over Brazil).
But you don’t have to be at a world cup – literally a gathering of people from all corners of the earth – to demonstrate service to others. Building community and service to others can happen every day, in our local schools, towns, and neighborhoods. It shows itself in showing empathy to those who are struggling, it’s going out of your way to pay a compliment, or simply saying hello to a custodian or lunch service worker – that you see everyday but are still largely “unseen”.
Citizenship does not require an every-four-year massive event to be present. Service, empathy, and building community can happen every single day. Fostering environments where our students can see this demonstrated and can themselves act this way is crucial to building the next generation of leaders.