The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Rockefeller Global Leadership Program

Will Dickerman '21 RGLP Reflection: Leaving My Comfort Zone

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to go on two study abroad experiences since coming to Dartmouth, both of which took me out of my comfort zone and opened me to new perspectives and experiences.


The summer after my freshman year, I attended the Italian FIRE program in Rome. The FIRE program an Italian language study abroad designed for people who have never taken the language before. I felt nervous about moving to Italy without speaking a word of Italian. Living in the neighborhood of Trastevere, the other Dartmouth students and I quickly adjusted to our new surroundings. It truly is remarkable how fast it takes to get by using a new language when you have to get by using a new language. I noticed that we soon began having full conversations with Italian people, which opened up my eyes to entirely new perspectives than I had growing up in Los Angeles. 


Vanessa Haggans '23 RGLP Reflection: Adaptability and Discomfort Benefit Global Leaders

Adaptability in an increasingly globalized world requires self-awareness, an understanding of different cultural values, and learning to be comfortable with discomfort. Additionally, adaptation involves respecting others and a willingness to pursue new and unfamiliar circumstances. While it might require modifying certain behaviors to respect cultural norms in some situations, adaptation does not require total conformation to the surrounding environment. Rather, it is a balance of honoring one’s own background and perspectives while simultaneously exploring the similarities and differences that exist between cultures.


Self-reflection is very important for effective adaptation to new experiences and cultural environments. Effective leaders must maintain self-awareness to understand the biases and perspectives they bring when entering into new situations. Reflecting on the values and experiences that influence one’s worldview is therefore essential to maintaining respect and self-awareness. RGLP gave us the opportunity to explore these personal perspectives, and I plan to continue this self-reflection far beyond the program.


Stephanie Rivera-Ithier '21 RGLP Reflection: COVID-19 does not discriminate, nor should we.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us one thing, it is just how deeply interconnected we are to one another. Coronavirus has reshaped not only how we understand ourselves, but also how we think about our world.

In our highly globalized world, it only took a few months for COVID-19 to infect millions of people across the globe. In the past months, we have demonstrated our ability to adapt and understand our role within the collective. We stay at home, we limit our outings, and we wear masks to protect not only ourselves, but also our loved ones from a lethal virus that so far has infected 10 million Americans and killed 238,000 others. Despite our private efforts as citizens, our administration has chosen to attack, belittle, and divide in our time of need.

Nathan Hwang '22 RGLP Reflection:

Assumption-making is a very common practice today. Even though at times it can be helpful (such as saving time), it is often hurtful and discriminatory. It is human to have assumptions, but it is important to recognize them when they arise and reflect on why you made the assumption and what you can do to have a more accurate and inclusive perspective in the future.  

Molly Katarincic '22 RGLP Reflection: The Power of Listening

The single most important tool for building dialogue across difference is intentional listening. Not only must we intentionally listen to the thoughts and words of others, but we must thoughtfully listen to ourselves to determine our own cultural biases. When we listen carefully to the words and thoughts of others, and respond even more carefully, specifically with respect to what we have heard, we will be more effective at building a productive dialogue across difference. Most times, conflict, or ineffective dialogue across difference arises from misunderstanding, and intentional listening with consideration to the cultural biases of others can minimize those miscommunications, and therefore minimize conflict. Additionally, intentional listening is so important because only paying half-attention can lead to assumptions, which we also know undermines dialogue across difference, as it can lead to unknowingly offensive communications. Instead, when we practice open and intentional listening, we can communicate without assumptions, and instead base communication on what we are seeing and hearing, ensuring a more respectful situation for all parties involved.

Melody Fu '23 RGLP Reflection: The Importance of Communication in Conflict Resolution

Globalization and its effects on politics and trade have become an increasingly widespread topic of conversation in recent years, but the impact of multiculturalism on everyday interactions are still in the process of being realized. During the weekly sessions of the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program, I was able to learn how to define perspectives and guide conversations through a multicultural lens as well as analyze the greater implications of cross-cultural communication on a larger scale. Facilitating awareness of different individuals' backgrounds is a crucial aspect of effective leadership and good teamwork, and RGLP provided the chance to hone these skills in the pursuit of understanding and professionalism.


Megan Hemstreet '23 RGLP Reflection: From Geocentrism to Heliocentrism, Broadening my Cultural Perspective

Culture is a broad term that can be used to describe someone’s geographical and ethnic backgrounds, as well as lived and shared experiences. Most people view their culture as the center of their world experience, similarly to the way geocentrism was prominent in early scientific knowledge, before heliocentrism became widely accepted. Before people have many intercultural experiences, they view their own culture as the standard and assume everyone else will adapt to them. However, throughout this program we have learned to broaden our world perspective and acknowledge first that our cultures are not the first person narrative, but rather an experience beholden to us that is not necessarily shared by other parts of the world or widely understood. Culture shock can be a result of this ignorant view. The best way to adapt to this is to avoid bringing in stereotypes and enter this experience with an open mind. Generalizations can be helpful but it is important to filter these to make sure they are not harmful in any way. This also requires patience, because as we have learned some cultures prioritize different things when engaging in discussions with others.

Marisa Natarajan '23 RGLP Reflection: Unlearning "American-isms"

My favorite session of RGLP was when we role-played a virtual conference between the people of two different cultures. I was assigned to be a “Sharahaden”, a made-up culture with specifics about how people from my culture react to certain actions and interact with people. My classmates were assigned to be American, so they didn’t need to change their behaviors at all. When we interacted, I was mortified at the way I was supposed to treat my classmates. In the meeting, they were trying to discuss business while my Sharahadan associate and I were distracting them with discussions about personal topics and yelling at the screen. It was not that I was ashamed to be doing these cultural practices of this made-up culture, but that I knew that the Americans had no idea what was going on. Being American myself, I knew why they were acting the way they were but I knew that they had no idea what was driving us to act the way we were or what our approach to the meeting was. 


RGLP Participant Reflection:

In the summer of 2020, while quarantined at home wallowing in self-pity and self-importance (I was lamenting the loss of my future and dreams), I started maniacally cooking for my family. It began with pasta. My mother bought me a pasta maker on which I spent hours making linguini, spaghetti, bowtie, and even ravioli. It was delicious. My thighs got thicker and my glutes widened. I started working out in the morning. I made myself an elaborate morning schedules that I followed for two weeks at a time, before falling off. Wake up at seven AM, walk three miles, do a half hour of abs with YogawithAdrienne, and make a healthy breakfast. My thighs thinned. My glutes tightened. I obsessed about the state of the world and wondered why, what is my purpose? I was selfish. My mother bought me spring form pans for baking. I started making French gruyere tarts, baking lemon blueberry cream cheese layer cakes, cookies, and obscure muffin recipes hidden in the New York Times Cooking. I paid five dollars for that subscription. I feel it keenly. My face broke out. I drowned in my own grease. I restarted my morning routine.

RGLP Participant Reflection: What does culture shock mean to you, and what can a person do to overcome the symptoms of culture shock?

Culture shock occurs when someone is met by an unfamiliar culture, or when they are in an environment that is not like their own, or an environment that they are not accustomed to. It is important to note that not everyone experiences culture shock, and that culture shock is not the result of interacting with new cultures. Culture shock does not occur every time that someone is in a new environment or interacts with a different culture, rather culture shock occurs when this change in familiarity is disorienting or creates a feeling of uneasiness, fear, anxiety, confusion and any other disorienting emotion. New environments and different cultures do not cause culture shock, rather it is a response that some people may experience when they are placed outside a familiar atmosphere and begin to feel homesick which can trigger anxiety and emotions like insecurity, isolation, disorientation, depression, irritability among other reactions.


The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences