Isabela Velasco ’21 RGLP Reflection: “Respecting Different Cultural Perspectives as a Recipe for Good Leadership”

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.

Throughout the term, RGLP has helped me expand my definition of culture. Before engaging in the different workshop and activities that composed RGLP, culture, in my perspective, was restricted to race, nationality, and costumes. Nevertheless, as we explored the different manifestations of culture, my definition expanded.

Today, after nine sessions and a trip to Montreal, I think of culture in a more holistic way. On one hand, I now understand that a culture can be anything from country-specific (like American culture) to condition-specific (like Deaf culture). Having this broad perspective of culture in my mind has helped me feel more comfortable when interacting with people with different backgrounds from my own. On the other, I think that being aware of the existence of such a variety of different types of culture, will help me be a better leader in a diverse workplace because it immediately helps me identify and be conscious of the potential difference in point of views and interpret them in a way that is going to be fruitful for the team.

Moreover, participating in RGLP taught me how important it is to be able to respond to ambiguity in an appropriate manner. Before the program, I had never sat down to reflect on many of my past experiences where, without even realizing it, I had experienced some type of culture shock. Being able to identify such a shock and reflect on it is very powerful because it gives you the tools to understand what might have made you uncomfortable in that certain situation and work towards building a skill set that will help you deal with it in a better way if you ever encounter it again. 

Finally, after these nine weeks, I’ve learned that being adaptable is almost a synonym of respect. In order to be a good leader in any type of global situation, the most important value such a leader can have is respect. I’ve understood that different people voice their opinions and thoughts in different ways and that those thoughts and opinions are rooted in different experiences, all of which are equally valuable.

-Written by Isabela Velasco ’21, 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.