For those of us who grew up in the digital age, the world has gotten increasingly smaller. In seconds we can use Google Earth to check out locales around the globe, we can Skype with friends on the other side of the world, and many of us have traveled, often spending extensive time in other countries. While we may be the only folks in our circle to leave our corner of the world, our generation is increasingly becoming global citizens.
Recently, NPR ran a story about the growing trend of “First Globals,” those Millennials who have lived, worked, or studied abroad.
National pollster John Zogby has been chronicling this trend for years. His book The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream discusses some of the changes taking place in Larr’s generation. He has a name for young people like her: “first globals.”
“Two out of three of them have passports,” Zogby says. “They are well-traveled; technologically they have networks that include people all over the world. They have a desire to be nimble, to go anywhere, and to be anywhere. They also have a desire to change their world and feel like they’re in a position to do that.”
It’s a generation just as likely to watch the World Cup as it is the Super Bowl. It’s not, however, just the children of the wealthy and the educated, says Zogby. “This is expanding beyond the Wellesleys and the Stanfords,” he says. “It’s different now.”
There are a few reasons why. More than 270,000 students studied abroad in the 2009-2010 school year, according to the International Institute of Education. That number is three times what it was two decades earlier. At the same time, the Internet and social media have made every part of the world seem instantly accessible. America’s youth is just more diverse — and international — than ever.
Although I didn’t study abroad as an undergrad and got a late start on traveling, taking my first trip across the Pond last year, I’d definitely describe myself as a “First Global.” I know the world is so much bigger than my city and I can’t wait to see it all.
How about you? Are you a “First Global”?
*Photo: Bruce Davidson