Catherine Chimley – What is Citizenship? Passport Workshop Reflection

Through my experience in the “Create Your Own Passport” Workshop with visiting artist Tintin Wulia, I gained a greater understanding of what it means to be a citizen, as well as the random nature of one’s citizenship or role as a stateless individual. When I entered the workshop, we were instructed to take a rolled slip of paper that listed our assignment – member of a nation or stateless. Many world nations were included, yielding a diverse experience for the students involved – whether they were a member of a historically powerful nation or one that is considered to be “developing.” When one nation was assigned to each student, there was greater awareness of the number of and issues within each of these “developing” nations. Although a large part of the global narrative is created by those in powerful, wealthy nations, it is important to be aware that we – as privileged people to live in nations without widespread famine, civil warfare, or crumbling infrastructure – exist in a minority. When students who held “passports” from nations with serious issues were able to share and discuss with other students, the extensive issues facing the global community became clear – our society will not be truly equal until all people have the same opportunity. Could you be happy with your possibilities if the passport you selected randomly was the nation in which you had to live – no matter what nation was selected? Until we can confidently say that each human being possesses opportunity to match their capacity for success, citizenship continues to be the division between those who are free and those who are trapped.

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