Dr. Morris, Chief Officer of Diversity and Multiculturalism and Title IX Coordinator at Keene State College, led a Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) session on perspective. Although it seemed rather cloak-and-dagger at first, the opening activity on the placement of chairs was refreshing in how literal it was and set the tone for the rest of the session. Dr. Morris' training in clinical psychology and experience in pedagogy are some of the qualities I hope to embody in my own career - the fact that she is a black woman from Louisiana was affirming to me in a way that perhaps it may not have been for many of the other RGLP members.
The activity we did where we had to answer questions about each other without speaking to each other was yet another almost blatantly obvious lesson in cultural assumptions and stereotyping. It was viscerally uncomfortable for many of us, which is interesting considering the fact that we make assumptions about each other on a daily basis without necessarily being aware of it. It sparked a productive conversation that we all seemed invested in.
My favorite part of the session, however, was towards the end, when the session evolved into more of a conversation and Dr. Morris spoke about various psychological phenomena around difference in the workplace, whether they be gender, culture, race, etc., and cited some studies that explore these phenomena. As a Psychology major, this was particular interesting to me and it ignited a desire to follow up and learn more.
-Written by Buki Sihlongonyane ’18, 17S Rockefeller Global Leadership Program Participant