Earlier this year I had the opportunity to work with a team of Salve Regina University students who assisted Mary Ellen Lynch Consulting with developing a business plan as part of their Senior Capstone Strategic Business Planning and Development class. As emerging business leaders, the concept of global citizenship resonated with students as they recognized the importance of enhancing intercultural communication and empathy to build relationships with future clients. I was inspired by how students fully embraced the concept of global citizenship and created the powerful expression: “The world needs you.” This forward-thinking message perfectly reflects my mission as CEO & Founder of Mary Ellen Lynch Consulting, because I believe that our individual and collective actions can have a global impact.
One of my goals as an educator is to activate the global citizen in each of my students by providing the tools to transform ideas into action, because the world needs them. The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action adopted by world leaders at the United Nations Summit in 2015 aimed at ending poverty, fighting inequality and combating climate change. I use the SDGs as a framework to empower students to examine local issues in a global context. By connecting course content to specific goals, I teach SDG #16, which focuses on promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies, by engaging students in cross-cultural learning with newcomers in their communities. One of my former students reflected on her experience collaborating on a project with refugees and stated, “Having a glimpse into someone’s personal story is not only inspiring, but pushes me to keep helping my community.”
While I was in graduate school earning my Master’s Degree, I traveled to Costa Rica to conduct research for my thesis and to assist an NGO with enhancing access to education in rural communities. My fieldwork exposed me to global challenges that compelled me to embark on a career of education and community engagement. Throughout my stay in Costa Rica, I became captivated by the local phrase, “Pura Vida.” While it is used to say hello and goodbye, the locals also use it to signify a way-of-life: to convey feelings of peace, happiness, gratitude, and positivity. The expression resonated with me then and continues to drive my work and my relationships. I draw on the Pura Vida mantra to empower others to embrace global citizenship because I believe that when we live a more peaceful, positive, and connected way of life, we create more engaged and compassionate communities.
According to the latest annual study released on June 19, 2019 by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency, wars, violence and persecution have driven record numbers of people from their homes worldwide. There have never been so many people fleeing conflict and other global crises as there are now. World Refugee Day is observed on June 20th every year to honor the resilience of women, men and children who are forced to flee their home country due to the threat of persecution and violence and to recognize the contributions of refugees in their communities.
We are living in a time of massive global change. The time is now to activate the global citizen in you. You do not need to travel outside of the country to effect positive global change. Living as an active citizen in your community has a ripple effect. Rosa Parks once said: “Each person must live their life as a model for others.” Find your Pura Vida mantra. The world needs you.