by Janata Harrison
When the world shut down, our homes opened to endless possibilities and diverse friendships. In the heart of the pandemic, the world became disconnected from each other. Dealing with isolation and grief, the streets of the globe fell silent. For many students, the pandemic felt especially challenging as we encountered a whole new obstacle of online school. Global Nomad Group’s virtual events actively worked to create community within the homes of young people across the globe.
The virtual events hosted by Global Nomads Group were catered to late teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19. Through one-hour conversations, youth engaged in meaningful connections aimed at developing a global perspective from the comfort of their homes. The diversity was astounding as I met students from Nigeria, Canada, Nepal, Jordan and Morocco. A youth moderator in the room would help us brainstorm discussion topics by prompting us with unique questions. Often, these would be questions about our preferences in food, cultural festivals and school activities.
In our conversations, it was clear to see that we are all more alike than different. I learned countless facts about other countries and student’s experiences in school. This includes the fact that for some parts of the world including Jordan, the weekend is Friday and Saturday. This means that students go to school on Sunday which for a girl living in New York City, USA was a really strange thought. I quickly realized how much school is structured similarly as we all had similar start times for school. Most of us commuted to class daily whether by bus, train or even foot. Hearing stories about the difficulties of school was comforting at a time when we couldn’t go outside much less school. My Global Nomads Group community became my refuge despite the miles between all of us.
While I joined the Global Nomads Group virtual events in 2020, it will always have a special place in my life. This is largely due to my friendship with Aseel that developed thanks to the program. Aseel is a student living in Amman, Jordan. After seeing each other in numerous conversations, we exchanged Instagram accounts. And as the Americans say, the rest was history. Our friendship truly flourished in and out of our online conversations. I found myself asking her questions about her first language, Arabic, and wanting to hear her voice constantly. One of my favorite qualities about Aseel is her sweet voice, full of grace and light. I constantly bugged her to send me voice memos which I still do to this day.
Aseel and I bonded over our similar personality traits: our love for public speaking and passion for social justice. In high school, I frequently recited essays and poems from memory in front of my peers. Telling a story and writing has always been my passion. Aseel, too, has a gift for being a strong orator. She has given presentations to audiences of various age groups, captivating them with her angelic voice.
As the world faces several crises from climate change to genocides, Aseel and I are both aware of the importance of our voice. In a voice message, she declared, “I truly believe in the impact that we youth have on changing stuff in our world right now. I, myself, am so inspired to do such things and seeing so many people inspired to do the same just makes me feel so happy and optimistic about the future. We are being more aware, we accept each other more, we embrace our differences. We all fight for each other.” Global Nomads Group emphasized that by sitting down together, we can resolve our issues. Thinking beyond our differences, we can fight for just causes and bond together as a global community. There is so much being done to change inequality and utilizing the power of our voices is only the first step.
When we are not trying to change the world in our own might, we are both just young women doing our best to live fully. In our talks, we share poetry, music and language lessons. Global Nomads Group gave us a life-giving connection and we both shall continue to thrive in this world, learning and growing together.