It was 1956 when Walt Disney created his famous It's a Small World attraction, inspired by participating in President Eisenhower's People to People White House conference on international understanding. If the world was small 46 years ago, think how much smaller it has gotten since then. Today's world has been shrunk by a global economy, where materials and products crisscross the planet. Places once thought of as "far-away lands" are now relatively easy and cheap to get to. Immigrants and foreign tourists from those same exotic locales arrive in our country daily. With the Internet and e-mail, we can learn about and communicate with people around the world in a click.
Despite these changes, many of us in the United States had thought of ourselves as separate from the rest of the world and its problems. But after September 11, 2001, it became clear that we must share the burden of healing the wounded places of this world with our fellow Christians from every nation. We recognize that we are just a piece of the global puzzle.
For children, that isn't such a foreign concept. Today's kids have an awareness of other cultures that is unprecedented. I see in my own children, ages 13 and 10, a blossoming interest in the larger world. My older child is especially fascinated with other places, cultures, and languages, and she thinks she might want to work in an international capacity someday—an aspiration I never would have dreamed of.
But even children who have no interest in living abroad will need to be prepared to think globally.1