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

MLDP Recap: “Developing a Global Mindset” with Chris Wohlforth

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Read a student’s account of our most recent session in our Management Leadership and Development program as well as a student’s reflection of the Bonus Content offered by the program to supplement the session topic below. For more information, about MLDP, click here.

As a Dartmouth student, I can attest for many of my peers that there exist misconceived notions of global consciousness. With a school as diverse as Dartmouth, many students believe that they possess the knowledge necessary to study abroad. However, as Christianne Hardy Wohlforth, acting director of the Dickey Center, points out, many students are unaware of their preconceived expectations that greatly differ from reality. In her presentation to the MLDP group, Chris Wohlforth gave a talk and led breakout discussions on introspection, international experiences, and cross-cultural dialogues.

Having studied abroad in France this past winter, Wohlforth’s presentation resonated deeply and brought up nostalgia of my international experience. She began the session by having the students identify a situation in which they felt like an outsider. After students shared their outsider experiences through studying abroad, conferences, and the first day at Dartmouth, Wohlforth explained that every outsider experience is a learning opportunity to move across cultures and work environments. For me, as is for most people, my behavior changed. I became less talkative and more attentive in a country whose native tongue was completely alien to any previous experience. As stated by Wohlforth’s presentation, I was very surprised by the reality of France, as I had a romanticized image that differed from reality. After this culture shock, many people soon become self-aware and discover who they really are.

Afterwards, we split up into small groups to discuss cross-cultural dialogues. There were four scenarios, each categorizing behaviors differing cultures may have in conversation. By the end of each scenario, we saw that each party was unable to effectively communicate to the other due to cultural differences. This was a reminder to students to accept, adapt, and integrate to different cultures. By the end, Wohlforth shared videos of previous students who discussed their international experience and how their expectations differed from reality. Ms. Chris Wohlforth shared valuable insight into developing a global mindset that every student should consider, whether studying domestically or abroad.

-Andres Ramirez ’14

MLDP Recap: Bonus Content for “Developing a Global Mindset”

The movie clip from My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a very good example of communication barriers between two cultures. The two families had different scripts for appropriate social behavior, which led to discomfort and confusion on both sides. Toula’s father was very emotive, and he hugged Ian’s parents, while they would have preferred a more formal handshake. When Ian’s mother and Toula’s mother discussed the Bundt cake, they were each speaking about something different. Toula’s mother was unfamiliar with the item, so she wanted a broad term like “cake” to understand what it was. Ian’s mother took Toula’s mother’s knowledge that it was cake for granted, so she was giving a specific name. This dialogue is very similar to the dialogue between Ms. Colson and Ram we discussed in the session. They also were not following the other’s thread of conversation.

Watching the clip from My Big Fat Greek Wedding makes the following video on developing a global mindset particularly engaging. This clip explains the skills needed to improve intercultural sensitivity. The necessary skills are intellectual capital, psychological capital, and social capital. The combination of these skills means that the individual has knowledge, is willing to be in new situations, and is skilled at relationship building. To judge whether or not someone has the skills, an Internet questionnaire has been created. Companies can use this questionnaire to evaluate their employees and then target underdeveloped areas to improve them. This will help keep the employees from encountering situations such as the one Toula’s family and Ian’s family found themselves in. A global mindset paves the way for better cooperation and understanding between cultures.

-Laura Dorn ’15

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