One of the goals of education is to give the heirs of our society a chance to ponder their role in it. Citizenship is key in this. It is an issue that raises both ire and pride. Thinking about it constructively helps prevent the knee-jerk reactions and ill-conceived fears that we have all had in our youth from crystallising into strict principles among stubborn, unchanging adults. Society can suffer should our kids draw hard and fast lines, pledge thoughtless loyalties to nations, or unite and fight savagely.
Excursions give students a chance to measure what they have imbibed from their own culture about citizenship against foreign values and history, while appreciating their place in the citizenship of our one planet.
A Citizen Out of the Shadow of Fear
It was not so long ago that South Africa emerged, by the rallying call that was the life and voice of Nelson Mandela, from under the shadow of Apartheid. A study tour here will reveal to the discerning student the scars of citizenship. Moreover, they will see the continuing impact this is having on the nation. Simply trying to empathise with the sense of ostracism and brutal division between a nation’s citizens will make students think deeply about the concept.
A Citizen in Empires Ancient and Modern
A visit to the Great Wall of China and Tienanmen Square, symbols from different eras that demonstrate how autocracy enforces national identity, will humble students and make them ponder their own freedoms, measuring their worth. A study tour to this nation will reveal how its modern history raises many questions about a citizen’s role in society. China has long been famed in the developed world for having a long, homogeneous and unique role in the discourse of individualism.
A Citizen in One City But Two Worlds
After the tumultuous creation of the German state Berlin witnessed a burgeoning modernist identity crisis, a crippling fascist ideology and intense emotional and public debate on how a city and nation identifies itself in the spotlight of a post-WWII era. A study tour here will open minds and challenge assumptions. It is a great place for students to ponder what it means to have national fervour and how to be a constructive citizen in an ever-changing world. Hence few places on earth are of greater relevance to the ideal of citizenship than Berlin.
A Global Citizen in a Global City
New York gives students a chance to see how immigration past and present impacts the concept of citizenship. Students about to embark on a study tour here may merely picture glitz, glamour and high-fashion. However, the images of refugees and immigrants of yesteryear pouring into Ellis Island to start a new life will provoke them to think about how multicultural a nation’s citizenry can be. This iconic city is also the home of the United Nations headquarters and has played a significant role in the history of the United States as a whole.