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Ana Torres Rodriguez '24 RGLP Reflection: Trust and Respect for Cross-Cultural Dialogue

 

A lot of things are perceived as “common sense:” treat your waiter nicely, do not text and drive, clean up after yourself, and many others. However, common sense is not so common. Cultural respect, like the previous actions, are not prevalent among Dartmouth students.

Our Dartmouth bubble includes people who do not realize their microaggressions and those who engage in downright racism. So, you ask: how can we provide people with the tools for dialogue across differences? Truthfully, nothing can force someone to engage in genuine and organic eye-opening discussions. The precursor for any effective exchange is willingness and open-mindedness. Participants in the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP), myself included, chose to participate in the program seeking to broaden our horizons and get to know people different from ourselves. For a series of reasons, other people have not chosen to participate in the program.

Alex Rego '24 RGLP Reflection - Cultural Embodiment: Culture as a Fusion of Mind and Body

Separation of mind and body is a hallmark of Western culture(s). As a product of a Czech-American household, my own interest in intercultural studies has mimicked this divide. Epistemology has for all my life been relegated to the brain, to intellect. I have thus always interpreted intercultural knowledge, intercultural communication, and intercultural conflict as being purely mental phenomena. Developing intercultural intuition, however, is far more comprehensive. Intercultural intuition is visceral, it is felt. All interactions are cultural, and thus all include a bodily component as culture extends far beyond the brain.

Ryan Penney '24 RGLP Reflection: Learning to Tolerate Ambiguity

Prior to RGLP, I considered tolerating ambiguity to be an immense challenge. In my personal life, I naturally distinguish right from wrong without second thought; I oftentimes struggle to find the middle ground in many situations in which I maintain strong opinions. Thus, accepting that the right answer to a question or that the optimal solution to a problem may remain undefined was hard to conceptualize. Nevertheless, outside of my direct sphere of influence, complex issues rarely are solved with neat, easy remedies. Ambiguity is everywhere, and necessary.

Rohan Menezes '23 RGLP Reflection

What does it mean to be multicultural or culturally ambiguous? I represent a particularly easy-to-notice example of this phenomenon, having been born and brought up by liberal westernized parents but in India attending a conservative Indian school. I am a hodgepodge of cultural identities, with an American accent and values, but the American knowledge of a recent immigrant and a conversely strong cultural understanding of the South Asian context.

Having grown up used to code-switching, it’s basically second nature to me now, to the point I learn to adapt to different cultural circumstances fairly easily. Changing one’s perspective, sometimes multiple times a day, is less a planned experience than a skill. Furthermore, this shift is only really useful when it becomes subconscious, to the point where you don’t even notice it anymore.

Ginger Link '24 RGLP Reflection

How does one enter into a constructive dialogue with individuals that come from different cultural and personal backgrounds? Adaptation is often cited as a possible solution, but I feel very strongly about the cultures and beliefs that shape who I am, and, as a way to honor them, I like to express these backgrounds in my interactions with others. Because of this, I sometimes struggle with the idea of adapting. I have come to realize, as trite as it may sound, that humility and respect are the most effective tools for dealing with this dilemma, rather than adaptation. Humility and respect should be employed in concert with one’s personal integrity.

Personal integrity and beliefs, unless they are explicitly harmful to the holder and other individuals, should never be sacrificed, even in the name of cultural adaptation. Just as we respect those that are culturally or personally different from us, we should respect the things that make us “us.” This can be done constructively when individuals in cross-cultural dialogues approach each other with curiosity and understanding.

Kamilla Kocsis '23 RGLP Reflection

Adaptability, to me, means adjusting to new environments and situations while still keeping true to the essence of the self. For a cultural context, I thought of the My Thai Vegan Cafe we went to in Boston. In my culture, veganism and vegetarianism is looked at as a burden and as the person choosing to be difficult. Hungarian cuisine has meat in most dishes and preparing food in an altered way can be read as a burden or as non-traditional to the culture. However, seeing an entire restaurant that is not only vegan but also offers such a wide range of dishes and especially within a different cultural context, I thought it was a perfect example of adaptability. Every dish is vegan at the cafe, but they also all taste and look the same as the non-vegan versions. The existence of the restaurant proves that adapting to the culture of a city setting where there are likely to be vegan and vegetarian customers does not mean the food has to lose its cultural ties.

Eliza Holmes '24 RGLP Reflection- Adaptability: Easier Said than Done

Being adaptable means being able to accommodate new situations. Adaptability is especially important in cultural contexts, where oftentimes people are exposed to values and practices that differ from their own. Some may go into a cultural interaction with little knowledge while others possess extensive knowledge, but, in either case, it is necessary to take into account that not everything will always go as expected. In terms of cultural knowledge, it is great to do research about a culture before having a cultural interaction, but it is also so important to check in and adjust these assumptions during and after such interactions. During cultural interactions, it is important to be aware of how others are acting in terms of body language, tone, and expressions. After cultural interactions, the aspects that are noted during discussion should be reflected upon. Specifically, what should be considered is how these actions compare to preconceived notions about the culture. If we do not avoid such assumptions, we fall at risk of stereotyping certain cultures.

C.J. Henrich '24 RGLP Reflection

Back in high school, I barely had any opportunities to have diverse experiences. I went to a school that was 93% white, which was a clearly limited environment to learn about other people’s experiences. Sure, we were an interesting town, juxtaposing city landscapes and farming communities. But, honestly there is little you can do to escape that overwhelming whiteness. But, my senior year of high school, I made an entirely new friend group that was majority POC and dominated by queer women.

It genuinely opened my eyes on how the world works by providing me the opportunity to enjoy experiences I have not had before. I celebrated Hanukkah for the first time. I practiced how to use chopsticks to eat Pad Thai. I even realized how much society does not focus on the diversity in East Asian communities, limiting focus to a few countries. To be more specific, my home region has a strong Southeast Asian community, with Thai, Filipino, Bangladeshi, and Vietnamese communities being common. Only through these friendships did I ultimately realize how important these communities were to my home region, living together and making such a strong part of our culture overall.

Marissa Gourd '24 RGLP Reflection: Culture in Daily Life

Growing up, I have been fortunate enough to have a family that has practiced Native American culture and values. Because of this, specific values and practices are engrained in my daily life. I haven’t had to worry about practicing my culture and spirituality at Dartmouth because of the friend groups and community that supports me. I feel comfortable enough to express that part of me.

I feel a sense of comfort when I see others practicing their culture. I love to ask questions and learn more about it. During the program, I loved the two activities that forced us to be vulnerable and share who we are and what has shaped us to be like this. Hearing my peers’ experiences and how they’ve grown up made me feel closer to them. It made me want to go out of my comfort zone and try to create relationships with people with who I don’t usually interact with. Cross-cultural experiences like this force us to be more self-aware and self-reflective.

Ora Cullen '24 RGLP Reflection

Culture is a complicated and multi-dimensional construct involving myriad identities; real and imagined. Broad concepts such as National Identity are often built upon stereotypes revolving around nationality, country of birth, country of residence, language or place affiliation, but also include ideas about race, ethnicity, religion etc. More specific constructs, such as ideas of community or family culture also touch upon these larger ideas but also include elements of privilege, perceived ability, gender identity, birth order, and sibling interaction.

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