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!

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