How to be a hummingbird: A lesson on Global Citizenship

There are so many things in the world we would like to change: but where to start? At the 2016 International Civic Society Week in Bogota, our team of Melton Fellows held a workshop with one mission: to empower people to become changemakers.

Awareness, Responsiblity & Action are the three pillars of the Melton Foundation’s approach to global citizenship, and together, these pillars form the framework for action which we teach to our fellows, and which we were excited to share with civil society activists from all over the globe.

Here’s how anyone can learn to make a difference:


If you want to address a problem you need to dig deeper and gain an understanding of the system behind, around and within the issue. In our workshop, we ask participants to share their point of view on an issue, and then to change perspectives and listen to others with a different stance. Our key learning: Blind spots exists when we look at things from one perspective — it is only when we “switch” positions that we realize the things we couldn’t see before. So, the best way to defeat a blind spot is to interact with someone that has a different perspective than we do.


What do I have to contribute to solutions: skills, connections, ideas? Getting to know our skills and resources and exploring our sphere of influence are crucial steps to gain a feeling of “yes, we can make a difference”! It means to explore your own surroundings for possible solutions. Our own resources may not be enough to change the world in one day, but it is the small acts that, in sum, can make a big impact. Knowing your own potential is important in order to take responsibility and become active!


Who, when, where, what? Break down your action into something tangible! This makes you feel like you’re able to do it. Plus, it helps to share your idea with others and inspires them to join your cause. By sharing your tangible acts with others, one can gain new ideas and fellow campaigners, too. Our workshop participants were surprised by how many others are out there around the globe who are also engaged with a similar issue. They inspired with their ideas and were inspired by others.

Your action may seem insignificant, but you don’t stand around watching the planet go down the drain: be a hummingbird, do the best you can!

In the end, we were energized by the positive resonance of our framework with the civil society activists in our workshop. They left with a feeling of empowerment, a will to make a difference and an action plan in their hands. We all made the commitment to be like the hummingbird of the story of Kenyan environmental activist, women’s rights advocate and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai. Despite being small, the hummingbird of this story does the best it can. And that is what all of us should do. Your action may seem insignificant, but you don’t stand around watching the planet go down the drain: be a hummingbird, do the best you can!