11 June 2007

World Tour’s Ain’t No Thang

A few days in France and already I’m noticing that young people here are truly acting at a global level, for better or for worse. I first met with Michael and Eric of Un Monde Au Coeur Vert (A World With A Green Heart). The leave September 24th for an 11-month world tour looking at the impact of eco-friendly “green” projects across the planet. They’re then going to develop an educational CD to be used in classrooms across France in an effort to creatively educate youth on green issues. Big-time global.

Then I met Florian Noutsos, a UN Unicef Young Ambassador who traveled to Jamaica last year on a goodwill mission to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and condom use. He also accompanied Former French President Jacques Chirac to the G8 Summit last year as France’s speaking youth advisor, where he got into a heated discussion with President Bush when he challenged the efficacy of abstinence-only education. “It doesn’t work. I’ve seen that it doesn’t, and I told him so,” Florian explained to me. Really big-time global.

It came full-circle with Aymeric & Loic, who are now heading Entrepreneurs Without Borders, an organization aimed at assisting young social entrepreneurs around the world to launch their ventures. In this, their inaugural year, they’ll help launch ten teams on two continents. Again, global.

“Oh yeah, lots of young people in France have done world tours. This isn’t original in France,” Christelle, the Director of Youth Venture France explained. “A global impact is very obvious here.”

I really got to thinking about the idea of an individual’s world. That is, if you live in a small village in Argentina just a few miles from the Bolivian border and you’ve never really left your town, then that’s your world, and that’s where you’ll create change. Comparatively, if you’re French or American or British and you’ve traveled a great deal in your life, then your “World” is, in effect, the whole world! This is where you first think about taking action, not because you don’t care about your town or city or country, but as your existence broadens you can’t help but be attracted to those distant places. It’s exciting, different and new, and relative to your own town, that far-off place seems a lot more in-need.

There’s nothing wrong with this idea. After all, I did the same thing! I went abroad, experienced a great deal and then wanted to take action at the global level. It’s only natural, I feel, to be most attracted to the broadest context you know.

Still, what I’ve learned is that there are big problems in need of innovative solutions right in your own neighborhood, and they aren’t any less important. Everything is relative, yes, but even those comparative wrongs are still unjust. You don’t need to travel to distant lands on other contents to create change. You can do it in your school or town and still be a part of this global movement. So, think globally, act globally or think globally, act locally. We need change everywhere, and we need people to create that change – not just in Africa or Asia, but in elementary schools in America, flavelas in Sao Paulo and slums outside Paris. Find your inspiration, and it’s cool if it’s local, I promise.

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