Mahealani DuPont ’21 RGLP Reflection: A Multifaceted Sense of “Self”

Each fall, winter, and spring, the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) brings together 25 student leaders to increase their understanding of global leadership and intercultural competency. Through weekly sessions with speakers and a culminating experience to either Boston, Montreal, or New York City, the students are able to learn about themselves and cross-cultural leadership. The Spring 2019 cohort spent a weekend in Montreal as part of their culminating experience.

I entered RGLP expecting to improve my intercultural communication skills, but as the program comes to a close I realize I am leaving with so much more than just that.

My sense of self has been challenged, reconstructed, and reaffirmed throughout the course of RGLP. One of the objectives of the program is to “develop a self-awareness about your own culture and inherent biases.” My interpretation of culture changed as I became increasingly aware of the ways in which different lived experiences, different cultures, different philosophies and ways of being interact. I saw this reflected in the diverse perspectives of RGLP’s presenters, as well as in their equally diverse backgrounds. I was prompted to think about my own experience and sense of self. What culture has cultured the way that I see, interpret, and react?

Dr. Dottie Morris’ session on Inconspicuous Culture: Understanding Other by Developing Self allowed us to consider “self” in a broader sense of the word - not necessarily self as the individual, but rather self as part of a community or society. I considered my own positionality in the world, concluding that my version of selfhood is malleable and subject to change depending on my environment. I found that my self-awareness at home in Hawaii has transformed since coming to Dartmouth, but despite that change I’ve still retained my core beliefs or values that I can comfortably deem “me.” This session allowed for explicit attention on ideas that often evade our minds as too daunting, as I know conjecture about “self” has been uncomfortable and ambiguous for me.

In directly addressing something that I had been historically uncomfortable with, a confirmed sense of self that is, I was able to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, as well as increase my adaptability and tolerance for ambiguity. RGLP has presented the “self” as multifaceted, and something that continues to be cultured by the cultures we exist in. 

My sense of self is informed by the following cultures I exist in; Tahitian; South Pacific Islander; Indigenous; First Generation; and more. This is not an exhaustive list -and I think the fact that I, and many other students in RGLP, exist in multiple spaces is indicative of the way in which being (simply being) is a constantly evolving process and interrelated to cross-cultural competencies. RGLP created the space for us to not only ask uncomfortable questions about selfhood, but also a space for us to pursue being.

-Written by Mahealani DuPont ’21, Spring 2019 RGLP Participant 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.