Message from Mr. Boyd Roberts

(Founder, International Global Citizen’s Award Program)
Photo of Boyd Roberts with a painting by IGCA Gold Level recipient Priyanshi Bareja, presented to him by her on behalf of Pathways World School, Aravali.

I have worked closely with Dr. Pathma Naidu since August 2012, when she oversaw the introduction of the International Global Citizen’s Award (IGCA) at Pathways World School, Aravali, India (PWS). The introduction of the IGCA at the school has been a great success, with PWS established as the leading school in the world for the programme. Pathma worked very effectively with colleagues to ensure the widespread introduction and consolidation of the programme in the context of her school. The well-established PULSE programme, which Pathma had devised for the school, was integrated with IGCA to produce a wide-ranging comprehensive programme involving the whole senior school. Pathma also worked with colleagues in the primary school to develop the school’s own Global Citizen’s Award for the younger students, and leading into the IGCA subsequently.

Pathma’s work on various programmes and activities stems from her deep and impressive commitment to the importance of caring, compassion, respect for one another and for the environment, and practical action to make a difference; and to the development of such characteristics in young people.

During a visit to PWS, I was very impressed with the way in which the IGCA had been implemented at the school,  integrated with existing activities and other programmes to form a holistic approach to the personal development of students. This fostered their awareness of the natural environment and of other people, and a commitment to working towards a better world. IGCA participants at PWS have undertaken remarkable projects and activities, benefiting the local environment and community, and a substantial number have received IGCA awards at all three levels – bronze, silver and gold. I was delighted to meet many award recipients, who were very impressive young people and global citizens.

Pathma has been a stalwart, committed and energetic supporter and champion of the IGCA, recognising its impact on individual students, the colleagues who work with students as mentors, and on the school as a whole. She has contributed fully and very helpfully to the ongoing evolution and development of the programme and I have found her perspectives and input invaluable. She has also been especially keen to promote uptake of the IGCA in India, and it was a particular pleasure to present together about the programme at a TAISI (The Association of International Schools of India) conference during my visit to India and PWS in 2015.  Pathma also organised a subsequent full day workshop at PWS for schools interested in the programme, which we co-led.I was also privileged to take part in a whole school assembly on global citizenship, during which IGCA student representatives presented substantial donations to local charitable organisations.

Pathma is the designated Ambassador for the IGCA in India, recognising her support for the programme and its development. 

Pathma has a deep and strong commitment to the development of young people as good global citizens and considerate, thoughtful, socially committed and contented human beings, expressed through her work on her own PULSE programme, the IGCA and in the many other activities and initiatives she promoted and introduced in her school. Pathma has been keen to become associated with a number of organisations whose work she values and feels she can contribute to. This led her to become aligned with The Charter for Compassion. She is currently an Ambassador in the Education Sector, Charter for Compassion, India. She has been instrumental in helping PWS become a Compassionate School.

For some time, Pathma has also wished to share her experience and knowledge with other schools, by working with them on the development of young people. Now, without the inevitable time constraints of full-time work in school, she plans to give more time to this work, including promotion of the IGCA, and offer her experience, insights and associations to other schools and organisations. She is also keen to introduce the Pulse Program as well as the Charter for Compassion to many schools and help them develop the programs in their own settings. I wish her all success in this.

My Understanding of the International Global Citizen’s Award (IGCA) Components

Written by Unnathi Kumar (Student, Pathways World School)

I am Unnathi Kumar, an 11th-grade student from Pathways World School, Aravali. In April 2020, I completed my IGCA journey, having obtained the final Gold Level in the IGCA Program.

Given that I was associated with the programme right from the home-grown GCA early on in my primary years, I’d like to say that my long journey has been extremely gratifying and has taught me a lot, especially with regards to my understanding of the IGCA components. I attempt to demonstrate the same in this article.

  • Understanding other cultures and outlooks

‘Understanding other cultures and outlooks’ is the one component that I consider to be the most central to the IGCA ideology.

Having noticed it as a strand in Pathways’ home-grown GCA programme in primary school as well, I have grown to believe that, as the world turns into a global village with globalization as its aide, it is crucial for any ‘global citizen’ to understand other cultures. As a ‘global citizen’ understands other cultures, you also ascertain that cultures have a substantial impact on outlooks, as cultures yield systems of outlook- and decision-altering beliefs and values. Therefore, the interpretation of cultures and outlooks are only two sides of the same coin – a ‘global citizen’ cannot have one without the other – and for the same, I would like to believe that they are clubbed together under a strand.

However, the importance of understanding other cultures and outlooks goes well-beyond only acquiring the tag of a ‘global citizen.’ Not only does it help you gain a better perspective of the world by understanding the correlation between cultures and outlooks, as stated previously, but it also helps you appreciate your own culture and, ultimately, craft your own comprehensive outlook.

To explain, when you undertake the endeavour of understanding other cultures and outlooks, you get a better understanding of your own culture by realizing how distinct it is. This then catalyses an implicit mental comparison, wherein you weigh up your own outlook (stemming from your culture’s beliefs and values) against another outlook from a different culture (stemming from that particular culture’s beliefs and values). From the same, you form an outlook that is can almost be considered best of breed, having incorporated the most favourable and appealing beliefs and values from several cultures.

Similarly, through the IGCA programme and the events in school, I have grasped this strand and its importance to a level that I would deem to be thorough. For example, annually, during the in-school celebrations of India’s Independence Day, it has been an age-old norm to also acknowledge the Independence Day celebrations of Korea (15th of August) and Pakistan (14th of August), even despite political turmoil with the latter. Having seen similar events since the time I joined the school fraternity (2012), the reflections on their occurrences through the IGCA Programme have assisted me in engraining the acknowledgement of other cultures into my subconscious.

  • Personal Global Footprint

Personal Global Footprint can be defined as the effect that an individual has on the world, including the environment and the people of the world.

As global citizens, it is impossible for us to not have a personal global footprint at all. Hence, the IGCA Programme further motivates its participants to strive for a positive personal global footprint, whether with reference to the environment or people.

To obtain a personal global footprint environmentally, global citizens need to primarily be cognizant of their environmental responsibilities. The environment is one of the few things today, in this era of rampant exclusion, that everyone shares, regardless of race, caste, creed, gender, etc. Resultantly, everybody has an impact on the environment, especially through our production of waste and use of resources. So, to curb the negative impact that we may leave on the environment, we must strive to make environment-friendly changes to our lifestyles.

Bearing this in mind with the realizations that undertaking the IGCA programme as brought to me, over the past few years, I have not only been recycling the newspapers that I receive at my home, but have also been conducting newspaper drives across my apartment complex to collect newspapers for recycling with a local organization, known as ‘Green-o-Bin.’ To propel the cause forward, I have also donated the products of the recycled newspaper (such as notebooks, pens, etc.) to charitable educational organizations across the city, an endeavour which can also be corroborated from my IGCA Community Service Projects for the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Levels.

However, the reach of one’s Personal Global Footprint is not limited to only one’s environmental impact with carbon footprint. The IGCA also considers one’s money-managing skills as part of this strand. As the privileged, we have the monetary resources to provide the first push for a positive change. Therefore, we need to be mindful of how we are spending that money and what kind of impact it has. To do so, one must imbibe ethical consumerism to ensure that your purchased commodities are not harmful and are within ethical boundaries – if you were to money on a commodity that is beyond your ethical boundaries, you must keep in mind that the same money could instead be used to transform another underprivileged individual’s life.

  • Working with others

“No man is an island.” –John Donne

Generally, collaboration is critical for success, as everybody has varied skill sets and has something to contribute towards the achievement of certain goals and objectives. As a global citizen, too, working with others is important to ensure inclusivity of perception and individuals in all collaborative processes, including decision-making.

However, working with others does not necessarily have to include working with someone on a team project. Working with others can also mean working for others. Keeping that in mind, community service is one of the ways that the IGCA propounds working with/for others, regardless of whether you initiate an individual or team community service project as your actions benefit the community with those ‘others.’

Furthermore, along with community service, working for others can also include advocating a cause that stirs you or persuading others to take interest in that cause – simply the will to ensure that something is done about the cause, regardless of its coverage by others, is an endeavour to work with and influence others. Advocacy and persuasion could even begin by informing your parents of an issue that you feel strongly about and explaining your stance. For example, annually, during Diwali, I advocate against the burning of firecrackers within my family, so much so that, at this point, my nuclear family does not purchase firecrackers anymore – the effort does not have to be big or small, it simply has to create an impact.

Effective global citizenship also includes decision-making and leadership. Similarly, when advocating for causes that you feel strongly for, you lead and partake in active decision-making, by ensuring that the decisions have a positive impact on everyone around.

  • Reflecting on change and development in oneself

As the IGCA programme strives to catalyze a galvanic change in one’s thinking and system of life throughout its three phases, it is important for us to take note of our development as well.

Within your daily life itself, there are several minute uprisings that you may fail to pay adequate heed to, but those end up influencing you in an unnoticed way. Every book that we read, every conversation that we have, every new concept that we learn – all of them tend to influence our convictions in some way, but the realization of that slips away by our inability to record the same routinely.

Hence, as the IGCA programme encourages the recording and reflection of one’s developing knowledge and awareness, participants can look back and see how certain events have majestically shaped us as global citizens. These changes in opinion may also inform us of certain notions that we may want to reflect on further as our mindsets progress.

In these growing years, it is especially critical for an individual to record how they developed mentally, to ensure that if their thoughts every go astray, they can nab the point where it occurred and bring the same back on track efficiently. Moreover, recording these changes and developments in yourself can help you compare your perceptions with those of others, honing your thought process in accordance with the first strand of the IGCA.

With reference to that, I believe that I am incontrovertibly not the same person, physically and mentally, that I was in 2015, when I began the IGCA Programme. I can say so with confidence because I have recorded and reflected upon the change and development in myself and have thus understood, for example, why I have begun to accept certain viewpoints.

For example, I may not have felt as strongly about a cause like women’s rights back in 2015, but as I stand today as an IGCA Gold aspirant in 2020, the experiences that I have garnered over the course of the past five years have definitely led me to feel more strongly about the cause, and the IGCA reflections have helped me narrow down that change in myself.

My Journey from Bronze to Gold (a part of the Gold level Reflections)

I completed the Silver Level of my IGCA back in the second semester of the 8th grade and commenced with my reflections and project for Gold towards the latter half of the same year. However, there was a gap of almost seven to eight months in-between. As a result, as is the rule with time, change is inevitable, therefore within that gap of a few months, I would say that there was a change, although it may not have been drastic, within my mindset, personality, thought process, among others. The events that took place around the globe and around me would have certainly catalyzed a change within me, changing my perceptions, too. I matured over that time, gaining more knowledge, which would clearly reflect in my understanding of a few concepts and notions that have been broached in both my gold reflections and silver reflections.

Moreover, for the reason that I completed my PULSE E-Journal Entries between Silver and Gold, I got a more comprehensive understanding of notions that would have otherwise seemed abstract to me, such as ‘Tolerance,’ ‘Acceptance,’ and ‘Respect,’ therefore between Silver and Gold, there was a development in my understanding, as well. In addition, as I grew older between Silver and Gold, certain ideas entered my purview, which I was alien to at a younger age, and now, I knew of more uprisings that were taking place in the world, gaining a more comprehensive idea of the world we live in altogether. Further, I grew more curious, and learnt how to voice my opinions more clearly with the difference in age. As a result, I feel that my Gold Reflections are more holistic than my Silver Reflections, as they incorporate more ideas and critical outlooks that I would have otherwise been able to perceive at a younger age.

Moreover, in accordance with the fourth strand of the IGCA, which is ‘reflecting on change and development in oneself,’ I can confidently say that doing the Gold Level of the IGCA programme has sprouted a change in my way of thinking. As the IGCA encourages its participants, to record and reflect on their ideas, especially in adolescence wherein the knowledge and ideas are currently in a developing stage, I have had the opportunity to develop as a global citizen and accurately pinpoint the change in my personality.

These IGCA reflections, bronze, silver, and gold, have broadened my understanding of the world, so much so that the IGCA is not merely an award programme, for its impact on one’s life is even larger; I can confidently say that the IGCA has motivated me to think twice about my actions, to ensure that they do not hurt an individual, thus you are not a global citizen through the programme once, but you are a global citizen throughout your life – this is crucial for me to understand, at this stage, as I complete the last stage of the IGCA programme. The IGCA has made me more open-minded, which has been an asset as part of the Middle School Student Council, and has refined my problem-solving approach, making it more action-based, as I now look at a problem as not a mere bone of contention, but as something that requires a solution. Conclusively, I would say that the IGCA, from silver to gold, has made me an individual with an even more open mind and heart.

Sharing ‘Head, Heart & Compassion’

With Gratitude & Love – Message from Dr. Geetanjali Chopra (Founder, Wishes and Blessings)
Photo of Geetanjali Chopra with Children she works with

A series of incidents spread throughout my life led me to set up my organisation ‘Wishes and Blessings’. While the episodes themselves were very different from each other, there was a strong line that tied all of them up- the golden thread of compassion. The first episode took place when I was barely 9 years old. I used to visit a school for visually impaired children with my grandfather to celebrate all special occasions with the students. On one such event, a tiny girl who must not have been over the age of 5/6 tugged on my clothes and asked me, “Didi, mera birthday kabhai?” (When is my birthday?). I could not fathom the question- how could someone not know when their birthday was? Were there people in this world who did not know that a birthday was a special occasion… were there no parties, no cakes, no presents? This innocent question opened up worlds to me- worlds that were different to mine. At that point, 9 years old me did not know all the consequences of that question, but in my head, I promised to help children just like her.

From realising that not everyone is privileged enough to have a birthday celebration… playing Holi with visually impaired children… to setting up an old age home for abandoned elderly; compassion is the solid base from where I could actualise the dream of spreading happiness amongst the underprivileged.

Compassion is what makes us humanand is very different from ‘charity’. Anyone and everyone can be charitable. However, it takes a special something to make you understand and recognise your privilegeand share your good fortune with someone who has been mistreated by life and society. My organisation’s motto is based on this very understanding- we are a platform that seeks to link the haves with the have-nots, to fulfil wishes of the underprivileged and to receive blessings in return.

However, do not mistake compassion, sympathy and empathy for a weakness; it is quite the opposite. These values teach you to be diligent, to show concern that is tempered with a clear sense of reality. The field is fraught with those wanting to take advantage of people’s generosity. Compassion teaches you to be careful with your benevolence, and helps you identify cases of real need. It is very much in tune with my own motto- follow your heart, but remember to take your brain along.

Many of the unique projects executed by Wishes and Blessings have their seeds from my childhood. Just as Birthday Manao was set up to celebrate birthdays of underprivileged children, the 3Cs award was set up to recognise intangible qualities. I remember as a child, my academic prowess was recognised in school, my values and morals were praised at home. There was a very clear divide, and I always used to wonder why such values were not praised at the school. This is why, when I established Wishes and Blessings, I set up the 3Cs award- an award that recognised the most Caring, Compassionate and Considerate child, to encourage the values society needs the most.

It has been amazing to see the mystical ways of the universe at play- how like-minded people come together to share their blessings with those who are less fortunate. How world over, individuals and organizations are coming together to build communities that are based on essential human values, that in an ever-increasing capitalist society, we are giving growing emphasis on the need to take what is only needed, and to give back manifold.

Just one of the examples of like-minded people coming together is how I connected with Dr. Pathma Naidu. I truly believe that the way forward is only through compassionate, sustainable and synergetic partnerships, and in Dr. Naidu I find an echo of this understanding of weaving one’s way through life. We share similar values and practices, and our energies align when it comes to building an empathetic and conscious world. Needless to say, I am delighted to join her on this journey of Conversations on Compassion.

At the end of the day, if one were to ask me what exactly is compassion…what keeps me going at the end of a very long strenuous day? I have one answer- compassion is the belief in humanity, is the trust we place in ourselves and others that together, we can get through even the toughest of situations, and together, we can celebrate the best.

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