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In A World Where Everything Can Be Done Online, Here’s What You Completely Miss Out On

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By Syed K. Jamal

The 21st century is one of global connectedness. Technology has made things easier, but technology alone does not make it a sure thing. Global connectedness requires specific skills and the right environment. An international education is one great way to be part of that globally minded environment, as well as a means to developing and diffusing it to places where it is most necessary. When you travel abroad for higher education, you begin to challenge those default settings you have grown up in and raise the bar for your own performance as a global citizen.

There is something special about taking the leap to learn new things, meet new people, and gain a new understanding of the beauty of diversity by becoming a part of, and thereby enriching, that experience for yourself and others. Learning to competently navigate complex work cultures, understanding different ethical codes, and interacting in challenging intercultural settings are assets required of the 21st-century global citizen. The mastery of these skills, in many ways, will allow you to lead a crowd of strangers, and find meaning and comfort in strange places. To forge a higher purpose, to be one and to be many, is now part of daily lived experience. It is no longer merely academic, it is now very real, allowing us to work and to collaborate in the midst of uncertainty and the unknown.

And, most importantly, this global competence means having a sense of humour when approaching situations that may amaze, confuse or upset us.

studying abroadIn the present time, where a complex and intertwined economy is characterized by the growth and success of new ideas such as Uber and Kickstarter, and by millions of searches, and thousands of petitions for social change which take place entirely online, it seems to have become “uncool” to go out in the “real” world, meet new people, take on new projects, and dirty our hands! But if we limit our transactions and interactions to the online world, we limit ourselves and our potential.

And so, as we strive to act and live life to the best and the fullest, we pursue that idea of global engaged citizenship. We look for ways to serve others, to make a difference, or, as millions of students have chosen to do, to go abroad to study, and gain a wider understanding of our world.

It is my appeal for you to go out there and learn about our world. See the wonders, confront the problems, find new ways to think about things, and connect with others who may see things from different perspectives. I know that it can seem overwhelming and feel daunting, as we freeze up in fear and confusion when confronted with so many choices to make. It happens to the best of us.

One way to thaw and begin to forge our path is to take part in opportunities that are more organized. With my background in international education, I often recommend that students take a break to do some studies abroad. It’s a big world out there, and there are so many places to go!

With nearly a million international students hailing from every corner of the world the US can been seen as a country with a longstanding commitment to educational exchange. There are over 130,000 from India alone. In order to make a more informed decision about which University to apply for, you can attend a US college fair organized by companies like Linden which has been working with people like you since 1982 to help you meet with campus admissions representatives from many universities across America.

If you’ve been keeping up with recent news about several students being barred from boarding flights because the universities they had been accepted to certain ‘blacklisted’ universities, be rest assured that all of the US universities in its fairs are fully accredited, with established histories of welcoming international students on their campuses. Such fairs are a great place to attend specialized sessions on the application process, US education system overview, and study visa. It is also an awesome opportunity to find out about the university programs that you are interested in, available scholarships and financial aid, campus life, and also connect with many alumni networks. You can attend these fairs for free by simply walking into the venue in your city or, to avoid long lines, register online for a quick entry!

It will be a good start. And, as often happens with good starts, it might just take you in a new and exciting direction to a place you had not yet imagined. Go with it. As long as you travel, grow, and learn to navigate new situations, it will be rewarding.

I wish you a beautiful, crazy and restless life. Go forth and learn!

The author is an International Education Specialist in Washington, USA.

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  1. ideasspinner

    The term ‘21st century global citizen’ itself is based on certain presumptions.

    ‘21st century global citizen’ need not necessarily emerge only out of globetrotting but can evolve and emerge out of humane attitude, broader outlook ,proper perspective etc.

    Let me set aside at present the debate as to whether the slice of 21st century in the loaf of time is right or wrong or may or could be different from our ancient times or posterity.

    I was happy to read some positive news from this usually negative magazine which resorts to unloving criticism on everything or makes references to put down predominantly practiced or beneficial activities.

    In this article too there is slight indignation at the enormous usage and utility of internet.

    Going by all the facts all citizens are not privileged to have globetrotting experience to get an international experience but everyone is well equipped with an inner self to have a global outlook and internationally acceptable attitude.
    Global citizen is a great philosophical and abstract idea; preferred wish of all sane human beings and a political, cultural, religious and social possibility which can be attained with help of various factors/aspects/subjects, though some may view it as some utopia.

    It requires in addition to geographical migrations and mingling [albeit they are also important] the following:-

    A] Mentally moving beyond the moorings of all forms of identities;

    B] Carry on beyond constraining default settings of life emphasized through various important and highly impactful spheres of life like the region/nation of birth, language, religion, culture of the place etc;

    C] Eject thoughts of justifications and project reasons leading to well being, happiness, peace and harmony of many and protection of nature;

    D] Avoid being judgmental with ideologically based ulterior motives, hidden agenda, clandestine contracts etc;

    E] Perceive without prejudice based on assigning or appropriating predefined labels;

    F] Willingness to receive and relish with tolerance more information and knowledge about life with broader perspective, unbiased attitude and open hearted outlook coupled with a perspective all of which use as frames of reference to perceive anything/anyone with contextual relevance and to evaluate based on inherent merit;

    G] Willingness to accept, to admire, to adopt and to assimilate in all realms of life as a whole or the wholeness of life;

    H] Move away from obsessive paranoiac declared stands on many issues;

    I] Desist from scripting any specific narrative for humanity as a whole;

    J] Desist from presuming or prescribing anything as a panacea;

    K] Above all realize that to become or to be a global citizen requires clarity, conviction and courage to consider all life as One, or similar parts of whole which can be termed as ‘Entity of Life or Energy of Life’ as this terminology can steer clear of any religious connotations or ideological overtones or political undercurrents.

    The magazine in which you have written about this ‘21st century global citizen’, if you filter all their articles till date, you would find them pandering to victimhood peddling, leftist ideological projections, sometimes stinking of negativism from overflow from the narrow gutters of political ideologies;

    I am hoping to encounter some positive vibration amid a world of morning philosophers, unloving critics, and fault finding fanatics.

    The extent of this negative tilt reveals a very conditioned and confined mentality which is not at all healthy for public debate on any subject.

    In fact it is a dangerous contagious infection spread among youth.

    The manifestation of mass opinions, obsessions, and objectives takes various forms depending on certain inherent attributes, imbibed cultural attitudes or instructed methods of operation.

    It is always burden or risk rather than any benefit by being a friend or an enemy of a whole group of people steeped in tradition and unwilling to adapt to evolving trends of civilization.

    This applies to groups in all areas left, right and center and on both extremes of the spectrum the radical and pusillanimous.

    It is difficult to define intentions, but easier to discern pretensions.

    Science/technology has not come up with a machine which can deduct intentions.

    It would be better that media and journalistic writing realizes that they can no more manipulate minds through as brain washing propaganda to generate ideological bias with an instinct to presume human life as homogenous and intention to homogenize.

    This is not possible in an era of camera in every hand, social media communication in real time;

    A stage may come when popular or popularized or paid media sponsored lies will become extinct species for the good of everyone.

    Actually the media as a whole suffers from perception deficit and presumptive conclusions because they fail to realize that information dissemination is not their sole preserve nor are people willing to get carried away by the credits they appropriate to themselves and the cunning labels they assign to some and more importantly facts and truths seeps out spread in real time through mobile sets in every hand.

    It is high time that main stream media realize that they need to evolve from being my old Remington type writer and emerge into the age of Dictaphones.

    Status quo addiction which petrifies them along with their putrefied perceptions and puerile intentions are exposing them overwhelmingly that it may damage even the few sane journalists out of job because as an industry at this rate it will collapse because the coffers of their pay masters will also get dried up due to lack of return on investment.

    Responsible mass opinion molders must report facts, observe certain self imposed norms geared towards helping as many human beings as possible to enhance their life in all aspects- physical, psychological, material etc without trying to wedge a divide.

    For example differences as manifestations of variety are inevitable facts/facets of nature and life but creating a social or psychological divide is an avoidable factor done by vested interest groups in all spheres who predominantly use media as a tool.

    Or even where there exists a divide it would be better not to dwell on that by constantly prioritizing it, super imposing it or letting it predominate all forms of debate and all domains of human existence or life as if it is the only or the most important factor of life over many other aspects of life.

    The prisms of perceptions break open the prisons of projections, pre –conceptions, presumptions and exclusive privileges.

    Some positive attributes may preferably be promoted to enhance the possibility of creating real ‘21st century global citizen’ like Forgiveness, Attitude appropriate to context, Compassion and Tolerance etc which have been rightly emphasized by all religions along with creating tools that contribute to comfortable living and better understanding of life as a whole and the role of human beings in the totality of life which have been rightly prioritized and performed by all sciences.

    I feel sometimes actions, reactions and human emotions when performed on certain FACT can in fact effect an enormous change.

    FACT here refers to Forgiveness, Attitude, Compassion and Tolerance.

    Forgiveness can be actually embedded as a part of everyone's character or emotion or psychology by understanding and accepting the inevitable fact of life that we cannot expect compatibility on multiple aspects/factors in everyone that we come across or relate with, and worse still to the degree/intensity/quantity/extent that we want such compatibility to be.

    Attitude of appropriate contextually relevant reactions must be assiduously acquired and adopted.

    Compassion must be cultivated as an inevitable part of character building.

    Tolerance also must be inculcated as a part of emotional, social and psychological attitude irrespective of any identity or multiple identities that one may have or entertain.

    I call this as important FACT to become a ‘21st century global citizen’.

    We need to remember that we can neither deny nor defy the importance of anything or anyone.

    Life is too vast and complex with some mysteries still unexplained and unraveled but not unexplainable.

    Life in short is an unsolved jigsaw puzzle with several pieces constantly evolving to fit in appropriate slots.

    The process involves constant churning, continuous learning and adjustment

    Everything regarding life undergoes constant churning and many things come out and ultimately evolution of life selects what suits best or gets what it deserves.

    Because we need to remember one thing while all of us feel the need for unity, what unity needs is feeling for all by all.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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