International, eh?

September 4, 2010

Nowadays the front-runners in the list of self descriptive adjectives seem to be ‘international’ and ‘global’. Or at least that’s what I hear frequently around where I live. In a world of global inter dependencies and diverse work environments, it is hardly a wonder that these same adjectives which were once used only by relief agencies, diplomats and governments have now become commonplace (with everyone wanting a piece of an assorted world).

I am pretty confounded when the word ‘international ‘is used as a personality descriptor.

Often I meet people in neighborhoods, schools, parties and conferences who tell me with a sense of pride that they are ‘quite international’ or refer to somebody as a ‘global person’.

What makes a person international anyways?

Would traveling to countries far and wide win you a right to internationalism? …. with low cost airlines, this status must be quite easy to acquire overnight :)what’s the big deal anyways?

Does sending the kids to an international school make you international? I doubt that would, because often it is English as a medium of instruction that attracts many families to international education. Also going by the annual fees of international schools, this word would then become the sole possession of the rich and affluent.

So does fluency in English make you international? Well no, because a non-English-speaking-monolingual person is entitled to the rest of the word as much as his English speaking counterparts.

By definition international means ‘involving two or more countries…’ but at a certain elementary level I guess, people imply ‘open-mindedness combined with some curiosity’ and use it interchangeably with ‘international’. At the first level, it means they want to know more about the world besides where they come from. At a higher level, it means they would change and adapt to live harmoniously and productively with people from diverse backgrounds, without being prejudiced.

Since this is such a vital human aspect which is only becoming increasingly important in an interconnected world, shouldn’t it be qualified??

Just like how countries have a set of qualifiers to offer citizenship, shouldn’t world organizations come up with a code of conduct? a set of prerequisites to grant an adult the title ‘International’?

Like the titles Dr or Mr. or Prof. why not Intl?

You don’t have to prefix it to your name. But maybe it could be stamped in your passport or green card as a way of showing that you belong to an emerging class of global citizens.

Any thoughts on what these qualifiers could be?
– Ability to converse in one or more foreign languages?
– Been a part of some international relief effort?
– No records/complaints of racial discrimination
– Maybe studied, worked and lived in a foreign country?

Would love to know what you think…

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