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

Nate Pucci '22 RGLP Reflection: "Facilitating Dialogue Across Difference by Building Trust"

Article Type 

When reflecting upon comedy and its role in facilitating cross-cultural conversations, Sadhana shared that humor depends ultimately on trust; jokes can serve to challenge our comfort zones and engage us in meaningful conversations as long they are made in good faith. Comedians fill a unique position in society as they are expected to push the boundary and direct attention to issues in a way that does not attack any single group of people but invites us all to think and reflect more deeply upon our own experiences.

In our politically correct and filtered campus environment, I sometimes feel pressure to refrain from conversations out of fear of ridicule. As a white male who has been blessed with a privileged upbringing, I fear that others may be quick to dismiss my perspective or assume my beliefs before I even speak. I’m the first one to admit that my demographic is overrepresented in the media, on boards of companies, and in positions of power throughout our society. But, as an individual, I am constantly seeking new perspectives and challenging my own understanding of the world.

Since applying for RGLP this past fall, I’ve been asked countless times by peers why I chose to participate in this program. It sometimes felt like they were insinuating that my perspective was not needed in a program intended to facilitate meaningful conversations among a diverse cohort of Dartmouth students. Initially, I was somewhat offended; why was my participation questioned? Why did have to defend my choice to apply while others did not?

Through my participation in RGLP, I have learned that dialogue across difference is only possible when we enter a conversation from an honest and vulnerable place with an open mindset and willingness to learn. I must first recognize my own biases and be willing to adapt my perspective and communication framework in order to foster productive and respectful interactions. I’ve learned to approach each conversation by listening first and accepting the limitations of my narrow experiences. This allows me to build trust and develop more meaningful relationships with the diverse group of people with whom I am lucky to share Dartmouth’s campus.

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