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

Delaney Marshall '21 RGLP Reflection: Overcoming Awkwardness to Be a Better Leader

RGLP students reflect on the remote spring term. 

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RGLP forced me to take a deeper look into myself in order to analyze what learned behaviors, biases, or aspects of my culture were preventing me from truly being able to look at other cultures with understanding and empathy. The remote format for this term presented a new challenge for everyone involved, and I want to thank Leslie, Sadhana, and all of our guest speakers for showing us firsthand what it means to be adaptable by successfully maintaining an engaging and enriching program. I was able to open up with the group about other intercultural experiences I have had and through that I have learned a lot about my leadership style and how I can better understand and transcend cultural barriers as a leader in the future.

One of the most impactful sessions for me was with Fua Nascimento where we talked about cultural competency and learned about what aspects of our cultures were formal and informal. One thing Fua said in particular that stuck with me was that awkwardness is a social construct. As someone who actively tries to avoid awkward or uncomfortable situations, this stood out to me in the way that things are only awkward because I’ve been taught from a young age that some things are taboo to openly discuss or do. Now, I try to remember this and unlearn my instincts to avoid topics when I want to address something that might be traditionally perceived in our society as “awkward”.

As a white woman majoring in Middle Eastern Studies, these sessions were very important to me in order to improve the way that I approach my studies and be a leader in the classroom with empathy, sensitivity, understanding, and adaptability. Identifying and unlearning your own cultural biases are crucial skills for understanding and celebrating other cultures.

In the future, I plan to apply the lessons and skills I have learned through RGLP to every aspect of my life. Global leadership skills and cultural competency will help me improve my leadership and communication within my sorority, family, and future workplace. These sessions have forced me to think critically within myself and go outside of my comfort zone alongside my fellow students who have all been understanding, supportive, and willing to learn. Hopefully we will be able to use our new global leadership skills and be back together on campus soon!

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