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

Ricky Juan-Ramos '22 RGLP Reflection: Dealing with Discomfort

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My experience with Rockefeller Global Leadership Program has been stellar. I learned a lot, more than I thought I would, especially about myself and what my identity means in the context of navigating the world. Growing up in such a diverse community, a child of immigrants, I always assumed I had strong grasp on intercultural communication and being open-minded. Being in this program however, showed me things I never considered about my value system and how the skills I use in my daily life are a result of my upbringing. Even within families, those things vary so much, and I think it’s a crucial practice more people should really experience, in the context of growth and in being a more compassionate, functional global citizen.

In today’s globalized society, to have empathy and critical thinking skills when interacting with others, especially when it’s uncomfortable, is invaluable. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in one’s life and forget that other people have such variety of experiences, but it’s necessary because every interaction, whether we mean to or not, can be the catalyst for something. Might as well make it positive.

Another big takeaway for me in particular, was the importance of recognizing differences and boundaries within groups. And when it comes to conflicts more than anything, I think that responsibility scares a lot of people. I myself have to recognize my own understanding of what is polite, acceptable and “good” is not universal, and while it’s one thing to have empathy in relation to oneself, it’s a completely different ballpark to reconcile that conflict with others. And it can honestly cause a lot of damage if handled incorrectly.

Hopefully now I can refrain from my own biases and navigate these tense situations to more productive states, because more often than not, conflict is just an issue of cultural misunderstanding (or even invalidation). It can happen at work or even between family but facing that discomfort for the sake of better communication is what being a leader is all about. I am thankful to this program for giving me a better understanding of my own global leadership and for all the earnest dialogues among our cohort. It’s been fun.

Written by Ricky Juan-Ramos, a member of the Winter 2021 Cohort of the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program

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