Raising global citizens through serving others
This article is part of the series Raising Global Citizens from A to Z. I’ve got the letter F, which stands for Family. I believe, everything starts from family and from the example set by the parents.
We are a truly international family. My children and I come from Moldova, but my sons are also half Sri Lnkan. My husband is Italian. We all live in the Netherlands. We speak three languages at home – Russian, Romanian and English and now we all study Dutch. We come from different religious background. My children and I are Baha’is and my husband is catholic. We are already so diverse, that we can call ourseles global citizens.
When I think of raising true world citizens the spiritual aspect of education is of paramount importance. I truly and wholeheartedly believe that if we want our children to be tolerant to people from different cultures, races, religions, sexual orientation, we have to teach them moral values. And the core virtue is loving your neighbor as you love yourself. I’m sure that if our children grow with the love for the whole humanity in their hearts, they will not judge people, they will not laugh at their differences, they will not be racist, they will not join groups that bully others, they will finally grow up with qualities that surpass tolerance, acceptance and empathy. They will not just bear people, keep their mouth shut not to get into trouble and pretend they like everyone. They can actually grow into people who will truly love all humanity, notwithstanding the differences.
There are beautiful words written by the Abdul – Baha (the centre of the Covenant in the Baha’i Faith and a perfect example of true servant of God)
“Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves. You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God. Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every human being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves. But if you look toward God, you will love them and be kind to them, for the world of God is the world of perfection and complete mercy. Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections. The eye that covers faults looks toward the Creator of souls. He created them, trains and provides for them, endows them with capacity and life, sight and hearing; therefore, they are the signs of His grandeur. You must love and be kind to everybody, care for the poor, protect the weak, heal the sick, teach and educate the ignorant.”
Love, manifested through service
The last words of this quotation are actually the tools of how we can achieve this love for humanity – through serving our neighbor, by caring for the poor, protecting the weak, healing the sick, teaching and educating the ignorant. That is what I try to do myself and that is what we do together with my children since they were really small. Whenever we had chance, we did projects of good deeds in our neighborhood and tried to do small acts of kindness every day.
Projects of good deeds
Since my sons were 5 and 2 I started a children class of spirital education and we had kids from our neighbourhood and friends. And the bst way to teach children true kindness and love for humanity was through goodly deeds. We did simple things within our reach, but we did it selflessly and with pure intentions:
- we cleaned the garbage in our yard
- we also made posters with cute childish drawings and simple text asking neighbors to keep our yard clean and beautiful
- we organized yard festivals for kids
- after a wind storm, our class removed broken branches and leaves fallen from the trees
- in winter we often cleaned the path which led to the main entrance from snow
- we decorated the dirty wall on the floor we lived. It was the first wall one sees while coming out from the elevator and all the children class painted flowers, trees and butterflies on it. It looked awesome
- we cleaned and painted the playground in our yard, so that small children had their own place to play
- we visited the veterans of Second World War on the Victory day and gave flowers and small monetary donations with words of endless thankfulness and appreciation
- we often donated toys or clothes to children in need (for example to kids from the Tuberculosis daycare center)
- we visited children with disabilities and played with them
We made these projects of good deeds once in a while, but I still wanted my children realize that serving others was not an event or something we have to organize, but it was rather a way of life – a meaningful life of service. So I stimulated them make small acts of kindness every day by the following means:
A worthy day
Before gong to sleep I would ask them to tell me all the good and kind things they did during the day, even if it was something small and insignificant. Then I would write their good deeds on white board. It made them think about the day that they lived through, in a different light. It was a worthy day if they helped someone, said good words, cheered somebody’s heart. Among the acts of kindness my children deed, were the following:
- helping teacher wipe the blackboard
- watering flowers in the classroom
- helping to clean after the lesson
- sharing colored pencils
- sharing snacks or fruits with other kids
- helping a girl carry the rucksack
- making a compliment
- offering a sit in public transport to an elderly person
- helping mother with chores
- taking younger brother from kindergarten
- giving away clothes, toys, books to other kids
- donating their pocket money to charity and so on and so forth
And when you run out of ideas, there are so many wonderful resources in the Internet. One of them is this printable 100 Acts of Kindness for Kids
The best reward is helping someone
Usually I never rewarded my sons with material means. The rewards were as simpe as a cute sticker or a star for every good deed. From time to time we used a transparent jar or a bottle, where I would put a glass marble ball each time they made a good deed; and by the end of the week we would count how many good acts each one of them made during the week. Knowing that you helped someone or made someody’s life better is the best reward.
Needless to say that as family we participated and still participate in a lot of charity events, fundraising activities, fairs, bazaars, marathons, and yard sales, organized for a good cause.
My kids are 13 and 9 now and they are open, sociable, receptive and kind people. Are they true global citizens? Do they love all humanity? Mmm. I wouldn’t be so sure. But am I a true global citizen? Do I love all humanity? All I can say is that we are on our way! Will we ever reach that high standard of human perfection? Probably not! But we are definitely going to benefit from the process.