This post was contributed by Lucie Zacharová, Assistant Director for Advising, about how growing up in a global context shape and transform our perspectives, expanding our worldviews to include different ways of living and increasing our competency as global citizens.
The world is global. The only thing that changes in times, societies, and in our minds, is our focus.
Growing up in Czechoslovakia, my focus was local and slightly politically skewed. Czech borders opened up in 1989, and my focus shifted. I was part of a major societal transformation, a new country’s beginning, and I explored the world as part of my education. I took in new paradigms of thinking and started practicing switching perspectives.
The world opened up to me through each language I learned, each country I lived in, and each academic approach I experienced. It paved the path for what my children see today: a world without borders or limits of a single perspective. My two under–10–year–olds have already called multiple locations around the world home and learned how we all share—and differently approach—the big challenges. They switch naturally between homes, currencies, lifestyles and economies, learning about what connects and divides people online or in person. They are familiar with universal values around the world, like family and local focus on different sports.
What helped me prepare them for this journey was my curiosity, open mind, knowledge of languages and family support. I had to work hard at all those aspects, but it left a positive imprint despite all of the ambiguity and discomfort an unknown world brings. My mind shifted from local to global, and there is no way back. My kids now live fully in various locations and work on connecting with friends across continents.
In our everyday global life, we talk to kids in China, whom I help pursue online language acquisition, similar to how my kids are learning Czech online; troubleshoot “life hacks” across communities in the U.S. and countries around the world because that’s where our friendships are; and hang out with friends here in Texas and enjoy our connections. We also go back and forth between Czech and the U.S. much like people in the Hill Country go back and forth between Colorado and Texas in the summer.
And when our present changes, so does our focus, and we enjoy our slightly different selves there. We complain equally about elementary school approaches in both Czech and the U.S. because we keep engaged in two educational systems to grow bilingual skills. We exercise lifestyle switches between “having” and “being” and local immersion into a few temporary homes we return to. Our biggest enemy lies in time-zones and understanding how others’ “focus” at the moment may not be on us—kids find that hard. Technology helps and distracts, so we try to come to terms with its use.
There is one thing we know for sure: The future is beyond our everyday global. It’s about what we do with it, and my hope is we are ready for that.