My name is Nick. I’m a board member of High Tides International and I’d like to tell you about what excites me most about High Tides. Not only is it a brand spanking new not-for-profit, but it’s also a completely new philosophy on global citizenship; a philosophy that focuses on people and places, and that follows the lead of the organization’s Founder and Executive Director, Leah.
Leah, visited a place nearly 5 years ago and fell in love. That place was Lobitos, Peru. Although I’m sure there are many things that Leah loves about Lobitos, one thing that I know makes it special for her is the people – especially the children. Over the last 2 and half years Leah has been living in Lobitos, becoming intimately familiar with the community. Equipped with skills in the creative arts and health promotion, Leah began running programs for those children that make her place special. Now it is time to formalize those programs, and bring her philosophy to life.
That philosophy follows Leah’s example and says, to be an exceptional global citizen, do the following:
- Find a place you love. This can take some work. You might have to go explore a bit, but you should probably take some time to take a second look at familiar places too; make sure you didn’t miss something important the first time.
- Take time to understand the place you love and why you love it. You won’t actually need to think about this step, if you really love the place, you’ll be compelled to understand it better.
- Once you understand, become a part of it, contributing whatever skills or abilities you have. Again, you won’t have to work too hard at this, you’ll just be compelled to do it.
In contemporary ideas of global citizenship, you can really only be a global citizen if you’re in a “developed” country, and your job then is to do something for “developing” countries. In our new philosophy, there are no “developed” and “developing” countries, so anyone at all can be a global citizen and practice global citizenship anywhere they want. This means we have WAY more people who can make the world a better place. (They were actually always there, but it was kind of suggested that they couldn’t help themselves and needed foreigners to pop come to their aid.)
There is no one-size-fits-all end goal such as becoming “developed”; metrics for success are as diverse as the reasons a person could love a place, and unique to each place being loved.
Lastly, it’s often recognized that “developed” countries got that way by exploiting countries we now call “developing.” Often times disadvantaged countries were being helped out of guilt, or at the very least out of pity, and that’s not fertile ground for mutually respectful relationships.
Admiration and love is fertile ground for a mutually respectful relationship. The best part is we can stop making everyone feel bad (either though guilt, or patronizing pity) and just selfishly love a place, knowing that doing so serves the world better too.
I hope that one day I am lucky enough to find a place that I love as much as Leah loves Lobitos. In the meantime, it is an absolute privilege to share in Leah’s love for her place and to contribute to the things that make it special, and I hope you will too.