Ryantony Exuma '26 RGLP Reflection: Montreal & a Multicultural World

The Rockefeller Global Leadership Program taught me that the most useful and relevant tools and tips to bridge over the differences between cultures and between people are very simple and accessible to us all: not rushing to assumptions; keeping an open mind; actively listening and supporting; and being vulnerable and flexible. In an increasingly multicultural world, constant employment of these tools will help build community, foster connections, and elevate new perspectives and experiences. A multicultural world means we are more exposed to things with which we may be unfamiliar: traditions, religions, cultures, etc. And often when we don't know something for certain, we simply use assumptions to fill in our knowledge gaps. What we vaguely "know" or perceive frequently morphs into a settled, often incorrect "truth"; those conclusions (consciously or not) penetrate our interactions with others, particularly those with lifestyles and cultures that vary from our own, and can cause mistrust, prejudice, and harm.

RGLP showed me how to embrace ambiguity and variance more actively in my interactions. Our cultural immersion trip to Montreal was a testing ground of sorts for how to immerse oneself in a foreign space and comfortably engage with others in a truly multilingual city not too dissimilar from my hometown of New York City. The people in Montreal displayed immense adaptability; many greet you with "Hello! Bonjour!" to subtly provide the option of speaking in either language. The city's residents have found a distinct rhythm that exhibits some traits people should seek to replicate; they are constantly open to interactions that feature unfamiliarity and find ways to create space for people who come from a multitude of backgrounds. From Little Portugal and the Vieux Port to Shaughnessy Village and Westmount, we observed the immense vibrancy of the cultures that have shaped communities and the people who are continually presenting new perspectives. The trip there showed me what true openness and cultural dialogue can resemble in a multicultural atmosphere; if I ever were to forget anything else, I know that depiction of openness and flexibility will remain with me.