Julija Vizbaras '26 RGLP Reflection: Ambiguity and Culture in Reflection

Cross-cultural experiences provide unique opportunities to better our ability to tolerate ambiguity and contribute to our growth as better leaders, colleagues, and friends. At first, ambiguity can be alarming: engaging with diverse cultural contexts exposes us to a rich tapestry of perspectives and values that might be unfamiliar or even contradictory to what we know. This challenge can also be intensified by intimidating differences in life experiences or communication gaps. However, cross-cultural experiences are an opportunity for growth and exploration: developing a tolerance for approaching intimidating topics not only empowers us to understand the world around us but also to forge meaningful connections and enrich our experiences of culture and self.

For this reason, I am grateful to RGLP for equipping me with the tools to engage in cross-cultural experiences that I might not have otherwise explored. These tools ranged from engaging with uncomfortable experiences to developing an understanding of broader cultural situations and contexts. One of my favorite workshops, because it surprised me so much, was a session centered around how conflict can be a tool, rather than a negative experience. After reframing conflict as an exchange akin to any other interaction, we learned how different cultures promote different conflict styles, endorsing varying elements such as direct or indirect confrontation. This insight clarified how differences in approaches to conflict can introduce ambiguity and tension, which can lead to contempt. Acquiring the skills to navigate this ambiguity and understand how different styles can interact was so useful in helping me mitigate conflicts, whether in group projects or my work, and walk away with a strong sense of collaboration.

RGLP also fosters a warm environment for building the courage to approach and create cross-cultural experiences. From engaging workshops in Montreal to group discussions over dinner and invigorating talks by guest speakers, RGLP propelled me beyond my comfort zone, encouraging me to explore interactions within a global community. Oftentimes, the discomfort I would initially feel became a gateway to discovering new facets of how my own culture informs my perspective, encouraging me to challenge my mindset. Overall, RGLP has proven invaluable, not only for imparting leadership skills essential for thriving in our global reality, but also for the introspective lessons and enriching experiences that accompanied the journey.