The Idea

The Global Book Challenge is a personal goal I set for myself in January 2012: to read one non-fiction, information book about each country of the world.

Celebrating Rwanda at the Spartanburg International Festival
I did not grow up in a bilingual household, nor did I spend summers traveling outside of the United States. My parents did not associate themselves with any other nationality other than “American.” In other words, I had to come to my identity as a global citizen on my own; it was not determined by my upbringing. Granted, there were many signs throughout my childhood that I could develop this identity. My mother is an artist, and thus, diversity and differences from the cultural norms were embraced throughout my childhood. For example, since the age of seven, I had always been infatuated with opera (not exactly a beloved American art form), and constantly sang in different languages. I was also a voracious reader, often reading about different areas of the world and longing to go there.

This first step I took on truly embracing my identity as a global citizen was when I was sixteen years old and choosing courses for my first year of college. A counselor suggested that I continue my Spanish studies, with the idea that I could apply for a special month-long program to travel abroad to Chile. For some reason, the prospect of studying abroad excited me beyond belief. (This was to the shock of my family, as without fail, they would always receive a 3 a.m. phone call when I spent the night at other people’s houses, desperately wanting to return home.) That summer, I began studying Spanish every day; I wanted so intensely to be chosen for the program.  

Advertising a Chinese Culture Club Event
Needless to say, I was chosen. Somehow, while abroad – speaking another language, living with another family, living in another culture - I found my identity. My studies have since been filled with foreign languages and the study of other cultures. Moreover, I have found some of my closest and dearest friends among people from other countries.

In fact, an encounter with a friend actually led me to this challenge: After becoming friends with a woman from India, I purchased a book about her country. I found myself fascinated by the multi-faceted Indian society. And during my reading, although I had not yet completed the book, I found the subject of India entering into conversations with friends, professors, and family members.

Riding a horse - Chilean Hauso Style!
We live in a connected world, tied together by the forces of globalization. We now have unprecedented access to information regarding different peoples, cultures, and countries. It is my belief that we have the responsibility of being informed about the other inhabitants of our world. The Global Book Challenge is one of my ways of accomplishing this – I hope that you enjoy this blog and join me!