I am from Romania. I am 21 years old. I am a woman. I am human. I am about to introduce you to one of my experiences that took place in Paris and will forever stay in my memory. But first, what is ‘global citizenship’ or ‘cultural understanding’? These are some questions that mean a lot in the era of change and technology that we live in, now, when we are making big steps for humanity, but tiny or almost invisible ones for being human.
I believe that a ‘global citizen’ is ‘someone who identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices’. In my opinion, that is equal with me being part of one big family, the population of the whole Earth, with all its cultures and traditions. Of course, for this to happen you must have a vital skill and that is ‘cultural understanding’, which is the ability to comprehend someone’s cultural inheritance, no matter how different it is of yours.
If we are talking about Romania, you will probably correlate the country’s name with the word ‘Gipsies’. But why? It may be because of the burglaries and crimes that took place over the last years in Europe. Horrible acts that were sometimes made by them, who are from Romania. You can tell, that sometimes it can be frustrating to be Romanian. Sometimes, it can be hard to be human.
I believe that we should all take the example of little children who embrace diversity naturally, playing and laughing with all their heart with kids of other nationalities, races and so on. When we are born we are all equal, but sometimes along the way we shut the door of tolerance and become enemies instead of brothers.
I’ll admit. Until a couple of months ago, I couldn’t really understand the idea of ‘global citizenship’ or ‘cultural understanding’. Or I thought I did, when in fact I didn’t. Why? Because something very, very important was slipping from me. The fact that we should apply this kind of mindset not only on an international matter, but also in our own garden (metaphorically speaking, of course): in our country. As a student in Communication and Public Relations, I learned that the mirror neurons determine us to copy the actions of the people around us. So, it isn’t hard to tell that most Romanians are as reserved to the subject of ‘Gipsies’ as I was.
But this thing was about to change while I was on a holiday in the splendid City of Paris, France, in August, last year. Me and my mother were enjoying a cup of coffee and some macaroons on the famous Champs-Élysées Boulevard. Surprisingly, as we were sipping coffee and enjoying the view, a little Gipsy girl came at the terrace. She started to beg until the waitress saw her and stopped her. I was expecting a very different reaction from the waitress, as I know that quite often people are mean to Gipsies, even in my country. Instead of that, what I saw left me speechless and gave meaning to the word ‘kindness’. The waitress asked the little girl with long thick dark hair: “What’s your name?”. “Maria”, she responded. “That is such a Romanian name…”- I thought. “Maria, you have a very beautiful long hair. You are beautiful!”, the waitress continued as she hugged Maria and played with her hair. After that, she brought her a macaroon in a tissue, hugged her and they said good-bye to each other.
It’s needless to say that on that day, on the Champs-Élysées Boulevard, I learned that maybe the most important ability is to speak the language that we are all so afraid to: the language of love, which is universal and powerful beyond words. While I witnessed that scene, small tears appeared on my face, under my sunglasses, but, most important, is what appeared in my mind – the hope that we can change something, we can make the world better for every human through the simple act of LOVE.