Maintaining a Global Perspective

By Alma Jeri-Wahrhaftig

I come from an incredibly global family. My maternal grandmother was born in England and raised in Rhodesia (now modern-day Zimbabwe), and my father immigrated to the United States from Peru. Over time, my family has slowly expanded to five of the seven continents, and as a result, I have had the unique experience of learning and incorporating lessons from various cultures around the world. My experiences and interactions with my family have shaped me into the person I have become today and continue to influence me. It is through my family, friends, and experiences that I have recognized the importance and benefit of maintaining a global perspective in everyday life.

My grandmother has lived in three different continents throughout her lifetime, each different from the first. She and her family moved from England to Rhodesia at the age of eight and then later moved to the United States as an adult. Her stories of adventure and travels circulate throughout my family, and have created a desire in me to travel and have similar experiences. My grandmother and her stories have helped me gain a better understanding of the differences and unique aspects that make up our world.

My father came to the United States when he met my mother and started a completely new life. He learned a new language, began a new career, and raised a family. My father instilled in me a strong work ethic, and helped me become a decisive problem solver. Through my father, I learned that with an open mind and creative thought, every problem could have a solution.

While my family is composed of a variety of cultures, my parents ensured that my brother and I would be able to participate in our cultures and have a strong understanding of them. A mix of Peruvian, English, Zimbabwean, and American objects, dishes, music, and more filled the inside of my home. Outside of my home, my family also worked to ensure that my brother and I would be able to travel to these same countries to visit family and appreciate our background. This upbringing has taught me to remain open and accepting to new people, cultures, and ideas. It has taught me that being open to new experiences can only bring adventure, and enhance an individual knowledge of the world. Most of all, it has helped me to embrace my own identity and filled me with a motivation to learn about the various other cultures of the world.

Over time and travels, I have discovered how a global perspective allows for new ideas and innovation to be brought about through diverse thought: how it allows for an openness and acceptance to new ideas, provides a better understanding of the globe, and creates a motivation to learn more about the world around. Of course education abroad is a great opportunity to experience this wider view, but a global perspective does not have to be brought about just by travel or family background, it can be achieved through your immediate surroundings.

At UConn, we have the opportunity to enroll in a large variety of classes and participate in different organizations that can help further our knowledge of the world. Different opportunities include the courses we enroll in, such as anthropology, women and gender studies, or language study. We can participate in various organizations and communities, such as the global house learning community, the cultural centers available at the Student Union, different clubs, or study abroad. We can even gain this view by the shows we watch, the music we listen to, and the books we read. It is simply how we view and learn from the world and the experiences with which we surround ourselves that can help us better understand the world and those who live in it.

A global perspective does not need to come from a grand life experience and it may not always provide the same set of benefits. However, we can only stand to gain from trying to learn more about others. While some may apply this perspective in their future career, a global perspective can help with daily interactions with others as well. It can make people better listeners, more accepting, more understanding, and help strengthen our connections to another across the planet and here at home.