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Global Citizens: 4 inspiring TED Talks that will convince you to localize now

We cherry-picked amazing TED Talks by 4 global citizens who discuss identity in a globalized world, the importance of a universal language, and the divide and kinship that come from diversity.

Could localization be the bridge between cultural identity and globalization?

What does it mean to be a citizen of the world?

Hugh Evans discusses the idea and responsibility of global citizens when it comes to solving global problems. What does it mean to hold a global citizenship? How can we connect people who speak different languages but share common values? Can activism be a universal language, and a universal currency?

See, we don’t need to create global citizens from nothing. We’re already everywhere. We just need to be organized and motivated to start acting.

Hugh Evans

As an avid activist, Evans shares his opinion on why taking care of our backyard first might not be the best idea for a globalized world.


Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local

Taiye Selasi speaks about “multi-local” people and layers that make a person’s identity. Are people framed by countries they come from? Or rather, are people built from a multitude of personal experiences? What does it mean to be multilingual native? All things considered, can you localize a person, an identity?

The difference between “Where are you from?” and “Where are you a local?” isn’t the specificity of the answer; it’s the intention of the question. Replacing the language of nationality with the language of locality asks us to shift our focus to where real life occurs.

Taiye Selasi

Moreover, find out what the “three Rs of identity” for Taiye Selasi are, and get ready to hear some thought-provoking questions.


The power of diversity within yourself

In her talk, Rebeca Hwang shares her idea why multilayered, complex identities can be an advantage in a globalized world.

It was easy for me to stand out, which couldn’t hurt in a world that was rapidly changing, where skills could become obsolete overnight. So I stopped looking for that 100 percent commonality with the people that I met. Instead, I realized that oftentimes, I was the only overlap between groups of people that were usually in conflict with each other.

Rebeca Hwang

Ultimately, Hwang asks: can our differences bring people together instead alienate? What can we learn from the diversity?


Don’t insist on English!

Patricia Ryan is an English teacher passionately advocating translation. She raises important questions and challenges our idea of using English as a global language. Can a lingua franca be detrimental to a globalized world?


 Now let me put it this way: if I met a monolingual Dutch speaker who had the cure for cancer, would I stop him from entering my British University? I don’t think so. But indeed, that is exactly what we do. We English teachers are the gatekeepers.

Patricia Ryan

How many geniuses cannot realize their full potential because they lack English skills? Take away inspiration from this short celebration of using your native language, and allowing others do the same.


Hungry for more inspiration?

For more inspiration, check out our previous selection of TED Talks or our article on different scripts around the world. Find out what makes a language real, why it’s important to make up new words, and how languages evolve through time.