Each fall, winter, and spring, the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) brings together student leaders to increase their understanding of global leadership and intercultural competency. Through weekly sessions with speakers and a culminating experience to either Boston or Montreal, the students are able to learn about themselves and cross-cultural leadership.
Fall 2019 participants were asked to write a blog post, reflecting on the topics and lessons learned throughout the program. Below are reflections from the Fall 2019 cohort who spent a weekend in Montreal as part of their culminating experience.
I joined RGLP because it felt like a calculated risk. I thought I would listen to a few lectures, discuss the value of diversity, and meet some new people. Throughout the term, though, it became a catalyst for some profound existential crises.
As a first-generation American, I have always been cognizant of my parents’ attempts to shield me from discrimination. They didn’t expose me to the languages—despite being trilingual themselves—the food, or any real knowledge of their struggles to assimilate after immigrating to the United States. They wanted both their daughters to grow up “purely American,” a white-washed perspective on what being American means.
Eventually, it left me in an in-between place: filled with curiosity about where I came from, yet ashamed that I had no claim on my ethnicity other than the color of my skin. Living in New York City gave me the privilege and perspective to explore every culture in the world. While riding the subway toward Queens’ Little India, Jackson Heights, I learned the subtle differences between the Mandarin and Cantonese, and this intersection of culture felt purely American.
When I moved to Hanover, I did not realize how difficult it would be away from my favorite Vietnamese sandwich shop and Bollywood movie nights with my grandparents even with the knowledge and exposure an institution like Dartmouth affords.
RGLP gave me a space to not only further explore my sense of self, but also to learn about the ways others define their relationship with culture. Generally, I have trouble being emotionally vulnerable, but throughout the program, I admired how willing everyone was to have uncomfortable conversations and slowly recognized the value of reciprocity in forming genuine connections. I discussed parts of myself that I haven’t even shared with some of my closest friends at Dartmouth because of the care that was extended to me.
Although there is still a lot about my identity that I am unsure about, I hope to share my very own version of culture regardless of how “scattered and unconventional” it may seem and to extend an invitation for others to do so.
-Written by Anne George ’22, Fall 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.