The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Aiko Takata ’21 RGLP Reflection: Learning to Adapt and Accept Ambiguity

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Each fall, winter, and spring, the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) brings together 25 student leaders to increase their understanding of global leadership and intercultural competency. Through weekly sessions with speakers and a culminating experience to either Boston, Montreal, or New York City, the students are able to learn about themselves and cross-cultural leadership. The Spring 2019 cohort spent a weekend in Montreal as part of their culminating experience.

Ever since I was little, I have liked my life to be organized. I like having a plan for each day and week and knowing what I am doing when. I have always struggled with making myself more flexible to fit other people into my life, so being more adaptable has been an ongoing goal. 

RGLP has fit really well into my schedule because of its regularity and rigidity. Every Monday we meet at the same time and have an agenda that we follow. However, in terms of the material that we discuss, some of the meetings have been far from the expected. During Brazilian Capoeira, I was challenged to push down my own personal boundaries to participate fully. I had to adapt to Brazilian culture instead of just sticking to my own culture that is a lot less physically expressive. 

All through my life when my family has traveled, I have had to slightly adapt to the culture, but I had never really thought about the deeper meaning of what that means. When I studied abroad in China in the fall of 2018, I had my first experience of really delving deep into another country’s culture. My peers and I learned to speak Chinese, eat meals with Chinese customs, and much more. Although we changed our actions to live in China, I do not really think that we changed our thinking very much. RGLP has helped to hone my definition of what being adaptable means. Before, I thought that changing how I appear on the outside was enough, but now I know that truly adapting to another culture is to be comfortable with other ways of thinking. 

Ambiguity also connects with adaptability. I need to get comfortable with tolerating ambiguity because it is key to succeeding in a global workspace, where there are people from all different backgrounds mixing together. Everyone has their own interpretation of any given thing, so I need to keep an open mind when interacting in a diverse workplace. A great way to improve my ability is in a cross-cultural setting, where different perspectives are everywhere, and I may not know what they are. In Montreal, I wasn’t sure about people’s identities because it was an entirely new city and group of people, but I accepted that things aren’t always so clear-cut. In the workplace, accepting ambiguity is a strength because it makes me more easy-going and able to handle whatever is thrown at me. 

RGLP has definitely made me a stronger person in the global scope. I am more comfortable with the unknown and the uncomfortable. I have also been exposed to a wide range of new cultures including Deaf and blind culture. I became friends with people from different parts of campus. I hope I can take everything that I have learned from RGLP as I continue my career at Dartmouth and beyond. 

-Written by Aiko Takata ’21, Spring 2019 RGLP Participant

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.

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