AFS participated in an international meeting of University Cities in Temuco, Chile, which attracted more than 700 participants, including public figures, decision makers, students, teachers, and university faculty and staff. AFS’ Director of Global Education Innovation, Linda Stuart, presented a keynote on building a more inclusive community in a polarized era, provided a workshop for 55 teachers, and visited local Universities that expressed great interest in AFS Global up programs. 

Events like this highlight the importance of global citizenship as a framework for discussions and the role AFS can play to inform and engage with decision makers. One of the event organizers, Rodrigo Casarejos, the National Director of AFS Chile stated: “AFS Chile was honored to participate in the Temuco UniverCiudad event, where we had the opportunity to communicate the importance of global competence and the role of Global Citizens to entire communities. We are committed to continuing to champion the AFS mission as we create important connections for future projects in the community.”

The commitment to global citizenship must be shared, inclusive and deliberate so that it really influences actions that last. In her closing remarks, Linda Stuart said, “Our call to action today is to promote and guarantee inclusive, equitable and quality education and also create global learning opportunities. Access to quality education is crucial to improving people’s lives and to sustainable development. For a more peaceful and just city and society here in Temuco, the adoption of global citizenship must happen at all levels, starting with families, businesses, educators, and legislators.”

Event attendees expressed a deep interest in issues related to global citizenship, especially in learning ways to mediate conflicts at home and within their communities, and strategies to bridge difficult conversations. These questions are incredibly relevant in these times of deep polarization experienced around the world. “The inquiry calls out the responsibility of each to be global citizens first and foremost at home, in our families, and in our communities. We should all start by practicing active listening, having empathy, creating a brave space where each can share authentically and vulnerably without judgment,” Linda Stuart concluded.