Current Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) Student Program Assistant, Soham Basu '20 interviewed alum Josh Tupler ’16 about his RGLP experience. RGLP seeks to help participants build their intercultural leadership competencies. Tupler initially got involved with RGLP because he was interested in traveling abroad and saw this program as an excellent opportunity to prepare for this experience. Through the lessons and practical seminars, RGLP provided Tupler with the resources and skills to thrive on the Government Foreign Study Program at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Tupler reflects on the impact of his RGLP experience at Dartmouth.
Soham Basu (SB): How did your perception of the program differ from its reality?
Josh Tupler (JT): I went in expecting a weekly dinner meeting arrangement that a lot of other on-campus activities had, but I came out very surprised at the level of engagement and interaction with speakers. From giving us their emails and cell phone numbers to taking an active interest in our academic lives and careers, it exceeded any expectations that I had.
SB: Why is RGLP an important program for students at Dartmouth to take advantage of?
JT: It is experiential learning done right. Not only do you get to hear from experts, but they have well thought out exercises for you to practice and develop the skills they are presenting. The final excursion trip at the end of the term allows you to go out into the world and apply the skills that you have been learning. There are relatively few other programs that have such real-world applicability. I am really happy that the Rockefeller center sponsors RGLP and other programs, like the economics seminars, government seminars, and the public policy seminars that are now available because I believe that this is the true way to learn: to get out into the field and get your hands dirty.
SB: Is RGLP different from other Dartmouth engagements? Why? Did RGLP bring together your different interests and experiences in any way? If so, how?
JT: One thing that sets RGLP apart is that there is direct faculty and staff interaction. Vincent (Mack), Sadhana (Hall), Joanne (Needham) and the rest of the Rocky staff all really engage and get to know the students outside of the classroom. I always felt so comfortable stopping by the Rocky staff member's offices. Most other groups and clubs are mainly student run or have tangential faculty supervision. The Rockefeller Center's direct staff interaction and their willingness to support the students really stands out.
From discussing leadership at a high level in a global context to discussing different cultural norms, adaptations and having different exercises and expectations, RGLP was not only a forbearer for my experiences in London, but for my Fulbright as well. I spent the last year in Canada, at the Queens University Centre for International and Defense Policy where I was doing research with different communities and doing community engagement through high school Model United Nations conferences. I had a Fulbright community leadership grant where I brought in faculty and professors to speak with students through open lectures and providing career mentorship to travel and get involved with international affairs. The interaction and facilitation I did on my Fulbright was inspired by what I learned and saw within the dynamics of RGLP: how the faculty and staff interacted and formed common goals. China has been a much different experience than Canada and the UK. I have only been here for 3 weeks but I am already employing skills that I learned from RGLP.
SB: What are some of you key personal takeaways from your experience with RGLP?
JT: To approach things that you are uncertain about using questions opposed to judgement. We have a lot of Western and preconceived notions that may or may not be accurate. By approaching with intrigue opposed to certainty or judgement, you can really learn a lot and find things that you otherwise would not expect.
SB: What reflections on your own cultural identity, experiences, family background did RGLP help you realize?
JT: It made me reflect on my own narrative and family background and identity. Especially, parts of my family's background, being Jewish, and part of growing up in the South having certain norms, etiquettes, and expectations that aren't transferrable and universal. By learning through others, I went through a self-reflective process and softened some of my own judgements.
Josh Tupler ’16 is currently attending Yenching Academy of Peking University master’s of China studies program in Beijing. Prior to that, Tupler was a Fulbright Scholar at the Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, where he studied Sino-American relations and the potential for conflict, conducting research about the role Canada should play in facilitating nuclear deterrence. Originally from Fort Lauderdale, FL, Tupler graduated magna cum laude with honors in his government major and a minor in ethics.
-Interview Conducted by Soham Basu '20, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program