Who are you? If you are a teacher, part of your job is to help students to recognize and understand their identity as they develop. Yet how many teachers have taken the time to examine their own identity and how we understand ourselves within a wider community of humans?
This is an activity from the Kid World Citizen website that I have used in the classroom and remains an effective, practical exercise as a starting point for young children to think about how they see themselves in the world and celebrate the diversity of local identity whilst linking it to our global citizenship. It is presented as a bilingual activity in English and Spanish. My place in the world
When I first considered using this activity with children, I saw that it related to the concentric circles of Stoic philosophy of the 1st-2nd CE. This concept is promoted by Professor Martha Nussbaum (University of Chicago) to consider our levels of belonging, our local and global identity, which allows us to recognize ourselves as local, national and world citizens.
“The Stoics… suggest that we think of ourselves not as devoid of local affiliations, but as surrounded by a series of concentric circles. The first one encircles the self, the next takes in the immediate family, then follows the extended family, then, in order, neighbors or local groups, fellow city-dwellers, and fellow countrymen- and we can easily add to this list groupings based on ethnic, linguistic, historical, professional, gender, or sexual identities. Outside these circles is the largest one, humanity as a whole”. (Nussbaum, M. For Love of Country?)
This Stoic concept is a useful exercise for teachers and older students. It is even interesting to examine at different stages of our development over time, to witness shifts in local allegiances.
For the Third Culture Kid (TCK) growing up in a different culture or nation to their official citizenship, the local affiliations may be across national borders. We can be local in more than one area. This is also true for people who have lived and worked in different places. We feel at home and local across places, national borders and citizenship.
This idea is expressed well in the TED talk by Taiye Selasi Don’t ask me where I’m from, ask where I’m a local
“We’re local where we carry out our rituals and relationships, but how we experience our locality depends in part on our restrictions. By restrictions, I mean, where are you able to live? What passport do you hold? Are you restricted by, say, racism, from feeling fully at home where you live? By civil war, dysfunctional governance, economic inflation, from living in the locality where you had your rituals as a child?” – Taiye Selasi
When we examine our allegiances and levels of belonging, we begin to see that the way that we view the world is through a particular lens. And it is a shifting lens and not absolute. What we feel is ‘normal’ is not normal for everyone. It also emphasizes the sense of global belonging that we all share.