The Global Citizen Diploma: A student's story

The Global Citizen Diploma: A student's story
The Global Citizen Diploma: A student's story

The Global Citizen Diploma: A student's story

by Lee Parker, GCD Coordinator; IB DP Psychology and MYP Individuals and Societies teacher, and co-supervisor of the Student Council

"Take a step on your own to help the world." These are the words of An, a student who was asked to reflect upon her Global Citizen Diploma (GCD). As GCD Coordinator, I am very fortunate to read and comment upon student reflections, and I am always amazed at how powerful these stories can be. An's is one such story. Before she left YIS in December 2017, she shared her thoughts and reflections on the diploma. Her achievements and thoughts reflect her individualism - the unique goals, desires, outlook and attitude she possessed to complete her GCD to make it unlike anyone else's. This is what the GCD is - a diploma that tells the personal story of the student, showing their learning and experiences through more than just a number. An provides answers to common questions about the GCD, which students at YIS may earn along with their IB diploma.

How would you describe the GCD to other students?

The GCD is a high school credential that recognizes the impact of a student's non-classroom and classroom activities and initiatives upon themselves and society. It acknowledges actions and achievements that other diplomas do not. It attempts to tell the student's whole story, instead of reducing the story to only a grade.

How is the GCD different to the kind of work you are doing in the IB program?

The GCD is very personal and unique to the individual because what the student does ends up being their story, which in turn ends up being their diploma. It is up to the student to tell their story. The GCD encourages you to ask "how much are you willing to do?" Whereas in the MYP and DP programs, the work is all required for grades or graduation and shows all students aiming for the same goal. It's not personal.

In your posts, you mention your project in Vietnam. This was a very ambitious project and you should be very proud. Can you explain what you did?

One of my biggest achievements whilst at YIS was my Vietnam project. I collected donations of unused items, such as toys and clothes, and brought them back to Vietnam to hand out to patients with cancer or heart conditions. The sale of baked goods, toys and books raised enough money to buy medical equipment for the patients. My aim was to make Japanese and Vietnamese communities aware of the other, and to make use of the limited resources in the world. The GCD asks for an understanding of, or a perspective on, the relationships of the world in regards to topics such as power and privilege. I benefited a lot from this experience by making presentations to many different audiences, and even gaining a scholarship from talking about my experiences. I think what brought out these successes was that I did this project by myself and not as a requirement for anything.

Coming into this project I did not expect to gain anything personally; I did it to help the people in Vietnam. This is what made the outcome so rewarding. I really recommend doing this. Take a step on your own to help the world. As international school students, we have many connections and resources to help us do so.

The GCD asks you to reflect on your past experiences and achievements. Do you feel that this process was beneficial to you, and if so how did it change your thinking?

The process of reflection was highly beneficial as it allowed me to consider my actions from a different perspective. Reflection may help students to realize the effects of their actions upon themselves and others. Sometimes this analysis can help give their future actions more impact. The reflection is just as important as the action. The aim of the GCD is to help students recognize the impact of their actions but if there are no actions to recognize, they will then have to go out and initiate something.

The Global Citizen Diploma is a high school credential that requires a process of deliberate reflection on a student's activities and projects, but does not culminate in an academic grade. Students are required to re-examine their experiences, reflect upon their learning and make sense of their education as they arrive at a deeper understanding of themselves and their connection to the world around them.


Students keep records of their reflection in a publically accessible, digital portfolio. At the end of their diploma, students are encouraged to curate a selection of their most profound learning experiences, a showcase of their best GCD learning. Our counselors can send the showcase link to prospective universities and employers who can see the candidate's learning and thinking, authentically, on their own terms.

See more examples of student experiences and details about the diploma on the GCD website.