My Parents, the Global Citizens

This blog is all about what it means to an active citizen of our amazing planet. Global citizenship might be a new term to some, but I was lucky to grow up with parents who taught me a lot about becoming a person who thinks about my footprint. Today, on Christmas 2015, this is my gift to the people who raised me.

Lessons My Parents Taught Me:


My family (I’m the little one, and my sister is holding the dog)

1. Travel whenever possible ~ My parents sent me to France (without them) when I was 15 years old. Even though they are real worriers, they encouraged me to explore the world from a very young age.


Family trip to Jamaica, one of my first experiences abroad. I’m in the dress, with my sister, cousin, and a new friend we met on the trip.

2. Observe carefully. Notice and create beauty ~ My mother is an artist and she definitely taught me to appreciate the natural world, and to take time to really see your surroundings. She also taught me that some things take time, but they are worth it.

Mom in Poppies

My mother on a trip to Italy in 2006


One of her beautiful paintings

3. Figure out how to build things ~ My dad is an engineer, and he loves to create too, but in a different way than my mom. He helped me figure out how to build a real igloo when I was 8 or so, and today, he is still helping my little niece build.

4. Invest in people for the long haul ~ My parents have been married for over 45 years. They appreciate each other’s idiosyncrasies and they bring the best out of each other.

Tandem Bike

My parents at their wedding, with one of their new gifts.

5. Do things even if you are scared of them ~ My mother gets very anxious flying, and she doesn’t think of herself as particularly athletic.  She still steps out of her comfort zone time and time again, pushing herself to have adventures. In a few weeks, my parents are heading to the Galapagos Islands, and during the summer of 2014, they took me on a trip to Iceland.

6.  Volunteer and take time to learn about other cultures. ~ My parents both invest a lot of energy into understanding others. My mom volunteers with the cultural council in her town, and my dad runs language groups and speaks 4+ languages, among other projects.

7. Read. A lot. ~ My parents both take time every day to read. They are very intelligent people (I’m pretty sure they have 5 degrees between the two of them) but more importantly, they are curious to learn about others.


Reading together as a family. This photo is fun because my sister later became a primatologist (she studies apes)!

8. Try new things. You never know what you’ll fall in love with. ~ When I was little, my parents encouraged me to try all sorts of new activities, from ballet to swimming. Today, I am a person who is open to trying new things, and that’s how I got interested in balloon twisting. My parents have always supported whatever I’m into.

9. Appreciate the outdoors ~ There’s nothing like fresh air, mountains, and trees!


10. In the end, there’s nothing more important than love ~ Taking care of our planet means caring for the people we love. My parents showed me what true love looks like, not with one big action but all the little moments over the years.

In Bed

Today, as a teacher, I believe that the most important part of my job is teaching students to be globally competent, which the Asia Society defines as:

  • Investigating the world
  • Recognizing perspectives
  • Communicating ideas
  • Taking action

Thank you to my parents for all of the ways that they’ve taught me these lessons. Mom and dad – I love you!

Readers – Merry Christmas to all of you, with special thanks to those of you who have taught lessons like these to the people you love.


Categories: USA

4 replies »

  1. What a wonderful and inspiring read. Thanks for sharing. Loved your company and discussing etymology with your father. My best wishes to you all.

    • You never know who or how you will influence others. You lit a fire in Jen to be a global citizen for which I am so grateful! You are passing on what your parents taught you. Bless you for sharing you joys.

  2. These are truly wise lessons 🙂 I love them all, especially the one about volunteering and staying open to other cultures!
    Happy Holidays!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s