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

Rocio Barrionuevo Chispe '23 RGLP Reflection

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Coming to Dartmouth as an international student after spending three years in a boarding school, I thought I knew all about adaptation. When I first arrived in the US, it all seemed novelty and marvel; I could only see all the wonderful things that I got to experience. Eventually, as the initial excitement was over, I started perceiving situations that made me wonder why I left my country in the first place, why things were not here like they were back home. I found comfort in the fact that although everyone’s story is inherently unique, I shared similar experiences with international peers, which helped me better connect with my current environment. However, I still felt like it was not enough. I desperately missed Peru. RGLP challenged how I viewed my experience far away from home.

I realized that my cultural mindset had remained in my previous setting. Although I was aware that I was in a different context, I subconsciously expected things that are common in my country and was disappointed when I could only find differences in how I thought my experiences should be. I resented I had to forfeit some of my common cultural practices to adapt myself to this new environment. After one of the RGLP sessions led by Ramin Yazdanpanah, I realized that adaptation did not mean forgetting about my background in order to “fit in” but finding a state of synergy between your culture and a new one. We all have cultural needs but understanding that people might not be aware of them is key. Cultural boundaries can be flexible, and all those negative experiences I lived can be avoided in the future if I communicate those expectations. I now ask my friends if I can hug them when I greet them since this is something that reminds me of my culture’s candidness. I also share with my friends that I would love to be asked whether they can offer me something when staying over at someone’s house given that it is still hard for me to be direct with what I need. I have found that these explanations make everyone’s lives easier since we never know what is going on in someone’s mind, especially in an intercultural context!

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