Sunday, April 14, 2013

Citizens of the World by: Elizabeth Horner

My friends and I wandered down Oxford Street , shopping bags on one arm, vessels full of sugary-sweetness clasped in the opposite hand. In each of our pockets was a blue-and-yellow Oyster card ready to be used at the Bond Street Station. And while some people might claim that this sort of scene is very characteristic to downtown London, at the time, I felt a strange sense of camaraderie to the people in New York City who will I be among next fall --- to my aunts, uncles, and cousins who at any moment might be having a similar experience in one of the urban areas of the Philippines --- to nameless people in cities I have not ever thought of.

In my previous Citizen of the World Articles, I have devoted a lot of time and ink to the similarities and differences that span one corner of the planet to another, and yet, I was only covering a fraction of the issues. It seems amazing that I could have forgotten the makers of these remarkable societies, the ones who are constantly shaping the world with their creativity, resourcefulness, and their adherence to social custom: the actual citizens of the world. You. Me.

In fact, everybody we meet is the face of one of the many cultures on Earth, and the chances we have to talk with them are as great of opportunities as travelling abroad. If it weren’t for this trip to London , chances are I wouldn’t have met my roommates, though we are all NYU students. Gabby introduced me to chorizo and brioche; Ariel showed me several You Tube videos of animals doing cute things that I would never have seen otherwise. And while neither of these is exactly critical to the future I have planned, my life is still a slightly different place than it would be without them--- just as if I had never been to Stonehenge or Westminster Abbey. I have been affected by the culture of our apartment, by the little pieces of California they bring to it, just as much as I have been affected by the culture of England .

When I return to Ohio and am reminiscing about all that I have learned since I have come to England, I am going to look to my right, and then to my lift: at the people I don’t know as well as I’d like to, at all the options I have to explore, even the small area around me, asking myself where such-and-such custom came from and what parts of England, or France, or Spain I might find in a country that was once settled by all three. Every person is born a citizen of the world, becoming more so as they grow older. The exchange of ideas--- the transfer of recipes and stories, photographs and journals--- allows us to become more and more intertwined with the global ethos until we are truly who the earth has made us, and what we have made the earth.

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