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

Elian Gerard '22 RGLP Reflection: Our Journey Has Just Begun

RGLP students reflect on the remote spring term. 

Article Type 

The Spring 2020 RGLP program will go down in the history of the Rockefeller Center as one of the most unique and relevant times for students to engage in activities and discussions aimed at bridging gaps between people of different origins and cultural backgrounds. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many new intangible challenges with regards to human empathy in the world that we live in, such as the mass discrimination against people from South East Asia. Moreover, in the United States, the assassination of George Floyd and the wave of protests that are following it are proof that humans are far from achieving equality of opportunities, treatment and respect and this is due to prejudices embedded in race, origin, sex, and social class. For that reason, this program was more valuable than ever this term because during these chaotic times, the speakers and the discussions that we had with our peers are essential to help us cope with the negative shocks to the tolerance, acceptance, and unity of the human race that recent world events have brought about.

During these turbulent times, we must take it upon ourselves to be empathetic to the experiences of others and not to agree nor understand but be mindful, accept, and respect different worldviews. RGLP advanced this purpose, for it gave us the tools to unify, first Dartmouth students, and later all people from diverse backgrounds who will get to interact with the participants of the program, who have now bettered the acceptance of our community as a whole by improving their global dexterity, and are eager to share their intercultural competencies.

In order to combat the growing socio-political tensions that are growing across the globe, it is imperative that we extend our use of the tools and awareness of the skills that we learned beyond the program to be the drivers of positive, crosscurrent change in the way we interact with people from a different culture. It is our responsibility to combat ethnocentrism by sharing the mechanisms and the memorable discussions that changes our own understanding of the world and the way we should interact with others.

As a Belgo-Congolese young man who grew up in Colombia, I had the luxury of growing up between cultures from three different continents; and although this allowed me to acquire a substantial global dexterity and intercultural sensitivity, it comes with the responsibility of educating others about perpetuating a tolerant academic, professional, and social environment around me. Additionally it is essential that I remain cognizant of the many cultural differences that exist between other members of the Dartmouth community, the world, and I, and that I acknowledge the different lenses through which others view the world that we live in. Consequently, given my upbringing and the skills I acquired during RGLP, I will carry out my duty as a future global leader in charge of fostering safe environments for people of all backgrounds, and will continue to learn how to become a more interculturally sensitive citizen within my community.


Read more RGLP Spring 2020 reflections here

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