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

RGLP Recap: Understanding Identity with Dottie Morris (3)

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This is a session recap of the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) from a participant's perspective.

Dottie Morris explains that the participants had made certain assumptions by turning their chairs towards her in the opening exercise of the session. Photo by Philip Son '16.

During today’s session, we welcomed special visitor Dr. Dottie Morris, Chief Officer of Diversity and Multiculturalism at Keene State College. Dottie discussed cultural fluency and methods of facilitating intercultural understanding and interaction, particularly in the context of leading a group. I was struck by the opening exercise of the session, which caught me off guard by identifying certain assumptions and preconceived notions I possess. Although I was at least partially conscious of these assumptions, I had failed to recognize how pervasive and permanent they are within my thought process.

Walking into the Class of 1930 Room, scattered with chairs facing every which way, not once did I consider reorienting my chair toward Dottie and the projector screen. I sat obediently, letting circumstance dictate my actions rather than taking control of the situation. As Dottie guided us to the realization that we were being complacent not only in such inconsequential situations but also within the greater structural frameworks of our lives, I honestly began to panic. Despite latent desires to be a vanguard or a rebel, I have always been a rule-follower. Just this past weekend, for example, I couldn’t help but respond with a visceral cringe as my mom, a notorious rule-breaker, strode into Hanover’s main intersection unprovoked, with no walk signal.

RGLP participants explore how their self-identity affects their interactions with others. Photo by Philip Son '16.

Acknowledging my complacency in unambiguous situations, regardless of how wrong they seem, led me to an important realization: just because things are a certain way when you encounter them doesn’t mean that is the way they must be. I will take this lesson with me and apply it to future situations in which my tendency to respect rules and regulations may overshadow my moral compass. Knowing that “pre-existent” doesn’t equate to “correct” or even “intentional” makes it clear that responsibility falls on me as an informed citizen to evaluate each situation I encounter and if something is not right, to change it.

-Written by Lauren Huff '17, Fall 2015 RGLP Participant
This ongoing series explores sessions of the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) through participant narratives. RGLP engages Dartmouth students who have demonstrated leadership skills and would like to extend these skills on a globally conscious level. In this program, students focus on and further develop international leadership competencies, which have become increasingly crucial in corporate, public and non-profit sectors today.

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