How do you create a "Global Citizenship Legacy?"
It's a challenging question; one that The 2010 Sharing The Dream Webcast Team has spent the past seven months trying to answer. And really, the truth is, I'm not sure that a single, concrete, right answer even exists. What I am sure of is that creating that legacy is possible. I know because I've experienced it. I've become part of it, and it has become part of me. It's been a journey that will continue, I'm sure, for the rest of my life.
The first challenge of creating a Global Citizenship Legacy was defining what, exactly, those words mean. To this day, it is a definition that is steadily evolving in my mind.
Before the games, I thought that to be a global citizen, you had to make these huge sacrifices – had to organize a charitable event or travel to Africa and build a school, but over the past year, my definition of global citizenship really broadened. Of course, being a global citizen is still participating in those huge humanitarian endeavors, but I've come to realize that it’s also the smaller every day actions. It'sthe guy who gave me directions to Thunderbird Stadium when I was lost on the Sky-train, even though he was carrying a Swedish flag and I had a maple leaf drawn on my cheek, or the fact that I can honestly say that I’ve made friends with student reporters from London and biathlon fans from Germany. Over the course of my Sharing the Dream experience, I really learned that Global Citizenship is more than one action or one event. It’s a lifestyle.
As for what a legacy is, that definition has also grown and expanded for me. In it's most raw and simplified form, a legacy is what is left behind. It is the residue of the Games - the venues that are now recreational centres and the celebration sites that will continue to promote culture in our city. Our legacy, however, also consists of what hasn't been left behind. It consists of a carbon neutral torch relay, that has allowed future generations to live greener lives. It is also what is passed forward. It's the lessons and mistakes that we are able to learn from as London 2012 and Sochi 2014 fast approach.
This morning, at Sharing The Dream's final webcast, John Furlong spoke about the idea of the "human legacy". To me, this is the most important part of legacy, the part that we've chosen to focus on the past year. It involves instilling the Olympic and Paralympic ideals in our youth, and promoting the values of the Olympic Truce.
It wasn't easy to come up with these definitions. Even as I type them out now, it's hard to summarize properly. Each person we met along our Sharing The Dream journey had an important piece to contribute to our definition.
The Governor General spoke on peace and solidarity and the importance of youth in establishing the two. Paralympians Andrea Holmes and Donovan Tildesley spoke about equality and over coming obstacles. Author and humanitarian Greg Mortenson stressed the importance of communication and establishing strong relationships when trying to achieve peace. Humanitarian, Craig Kielburger, was dynamic in the message he gave to youth, urging them to "be the change they wish to see in their world". Minister of Education, Margaret MacDiarmid, explained how education plays a role in developing global citizens.
This morning, we had our seventh and final webcast. We were lucky enough to have John Furlong as our keynote speaker, who stressed the power sport has to unite people of all backgrounds, and John Edwards tuned in from London to speak about his experience as an athlete and LOCOG member creating peace through sport. Olympic ski-cross competitor, Julia Murray, and Paralympic ski-cross competitor, Tyler Mosher, both spoke about their journeys to 2010, and educators from both BC and London taught us about how important youth are in global citizenship movements. From our studio audience and a group of young leaders in London, we had the chance to hear our peers' thoughts on the Games and peace-building.
Honestly though, as cheesy as it may sound, some of the most important definitions came from the other members of the "Dream Team". We often joke that it's unfortunate we don't have cameras on us during every day conversations, because, often, that is when the most valuable understanding of global citizenship emerges.
As a team, have spent hours discussing culture, sport, education, social justice, religion, and the consequences and benefits when of when they all collide. We've had conversations on aboriginal rights here in Canada, the caste system in India, poverty in Mexico and Africa, disaster in Haiti, and censorship in China and within our own system of government. This morning, we had a lengthy discussion on Hijabs and arranged marriages and how they relate to women's rights. These startingly honest and insightful conversations have taught me so much about the world around me.
In the end, as previously stated, it's hard to say exactly how you create a Global Citizenship Legacy. It takes a certain amount of dedication to the cause, and a healthy appetitite for learning. It requires a willingness to make (many) mistakes and learn from them, and an openess to change and new ideas. A passionate team of both youth and adults is necessary.
Other than that, however, I think that the possibilites are endless. And, maybe, that's the whole point of the legacy, proving that "If you dream it, you can do it."
Sharing The Dream has been a truly incredible, inspiring, and life-altering opportunity for me, and to close this blog, I'd like to end with one of my favourite quotes in the entire world. It's from a book called Footfree and Fancyloose, by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain, and I think it sums up my past seven months with Sharing the Dream in three simple sentences:
"Dreams are complicated. They almost never turn out like you imagine - they almost always change. Sometimes, they change you."
You can find out more about Sharing The Dream, as well as view past webcasts, at www.sharingthedream.gov.bc.ca