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

Rockefeller Global Leadership Program

Peter Mikhlin '23 RGLP Reflection

I’d like to begin by imagining a world without any concern for the ‘outsider.’ And when thinking about the outsider, there is a type of person that pops into your head, specifically someone of a different culture. But, in someone else’s mind, you are also perceived as an outsider. In such a world, being posed such a question could imbue discomfort, evasion of cultural discussions, and exclusivity. A workplace with such a culture would come to represent homogeneity, with any outsider being gawked at, ignored, and belittled. Further, a person accustomed to such an environment would be unable to exist in multi-cultural situations because they forwent understanding the many intricacies of other cultures.

Nicolas Macri '24 RGLP Reflection- Breaking Bread: Mealtime’s Connective Potential

Our weekly sessions throughout the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program did not begin with a sterile lecture. As we shared long hours with our fellow program participants, a diverse group of people from multiple continents, histories, and various socio-economic, racial, gender, and sexuality groups, we did not begin our intercultural interaction with the professional task at hand, per se. Instead of directly diving into our formal educational objectives, every session of ours began in a particular way: together, we ate dinner. When evaluating what the most important tools in building platforms for dialogue across difference are, shared meals are a perhaps overlooked strategy in the field of intercultural studies. However, our weekly dinners in RGLP demonstrate first-hand the connective power of regular shared meals, proven by our deeply diverse cohort casually growing closer as we got to know each other over dinner.

Rocio Barrionuevo Chispe '23 RGLP Reflection

Coming to Dartmouth as an international student after spending three years in a boarding school, I thought I knew all about adaptation. When I first arrived in the US, it all seemed novelty and marvel; I could only see all the wonderful things that I got to experience. Eventually, as the initial excitement was over, I started perceiving situations that made me wonder why I left my country in the first place, why things were not here like they were back home. I found comfort in the fact that although everyone’s story is inherently unique, I shared similar experiences with international peers, which helped me better connect with my current environment. However, I still felt like it was not enough. I desperately missed Peru. RGLP challenged how I viewed my experience far away from home.

Sarah Hutchinson '22 RGLP Reflection: Observing and Engaging Across Difference

The most important tools for building a platform for dialogue across difference are seeking out information, cultivating an attitude of graciousness and humility, and acting to create an environment that helps people to feel heard and appreciated. Considerate focus on the other person, discerning the nature and needs of the circumstance, and responding attentively are essential elements of interacting adaptively to support difference.

First, it is necessary to pay attention to interactions with others in order to recognize differences. You can do this by listening actively, particularly by listening more than you speak. You can also observe how a person presents themself to others, such as in facial expressions, vocal inflection, and body language. Consider the ways in which people are unlike or like you and some possible reasons behind those differences or similarities.

Seria Zara '20 RGLP Reflection: Evaluating Your Intercultural Conflict Style

Session 5 of RGLP, held on October 18th, 2021, was titled, "Evaluating Your Intercultural Conflict Style" with Sadhana Hall. Sadhana shared a short summary of her illustrious, cross-cultural career, starting in hard sciences in college in India to over time transitioning into health and global public policy where she has made a global impact and been recognized internationally for her leadership. Among other things, she shared how she is in a cross-cultural marriage and it’s made her very flexible. It was discussed how cultural differences do not only exist across cultures, but can exist within the same culture (such as subcultures), between generations and within the same generation, and between and within sub-groups as well. The session entailed various introspective exercises exploring our ‘conflict resolution styles’ based on the intercultural conflict style (ICS) inventory from the Intercultural Development Research Institute and thought-provoking discussions involving our experiences navigating conflict and values and skills critical to resolving it.

Anais Zhang '24 RGLP Reflection - Culture and Capoeira: Leaning Into Discomfort

Fua Nascimento, master of capoeira, crooned at the top of his lungs while tapping a steady rhythm on a conga drum and stomping his bare feet on the sleek hardwood floor. My peers and I stood in a circle around him, captivated by the lilt of his voice as he sang traditional songs. In this experiential learning session of RGLP, through the practice of capoeira —a Brazilian form of martial arts — I learned to let go of my inhibitions, to approach a setting with openness and curiosity, and to dive into the culture of another country.

Skylar Wiseman '24 RGLP Reflection: A Dialogue of Difference; Skills We Should Want to Develop

Over the course of RGLP I’ve had much concentrated exposure to differing cultural norms, values, and shared experiences. This has not necessarily been a comfortable process; from Capoeira to eating with chopsticks (which is probably disproportionately hard for me compared to others) to considering and overcoming my own cultural biases. I’ve learned that one of the most important tools one can employ in conducting dialogues across difference is a toleration of ambiguity and uncertainty. Having an unfamiliarity or discomfort with differing cultural norms is simply part of the experience of intercultural relationships. What matters more is how one overcomes these differences and the communication inherently tied up in such an act. Expressing differing backgrounds, perspectives, and  cultural expectations can go a long way in resolving conflict or tension before it arises. When we approach situations from a place of understanding and communication, the outcome is more often than not leniency and growth. Both parties learn from and about each other and come away from the experience gratified rather than upset. 

Teddy Truex '22 RGLP Reflection: The Importance of Adaptability in Intercultural Settings

Adaptability has always been a strength of mine and something I value highly in leaders. As a leader in an ever changing world, it is extremely important to be quick on your feet and be able to adapt to any situation or environment that may arise. RGLP reinforced this belief for me and exposed me to new dimensions of adaptability that I had never thought about before. In approaching intercultural interactions of any kind, adaptability means many things. It means being conscious of how your own culture affects the ways you communicate and express yourself. It means being aware of potential differences in the communication styles of people from different backgrounds, and not taking your own cultural norms for granted. It means being able to adjust your own perceptions and reflect on mistakes or miscalculations you make in an intercultural interaction. It means being able to adjust the way you express your thoughts and feelings in order to communicate more effectively with people from different backgrounds. All of these aspects of adaptability are crucial to being an effective leader in culturally diverse settings.

Ana Torres Rodriguez '24 RGLP Reflection: Trust and Respect for Cross-Cultural Dialogue

 

A lot of things are perceived as “common sense:” treat your waiter nicely, do not text and drive, clean up after yourself, and many others. However, common sense is not so common. Cultural respect, like the previous actions, are not prevalent among Dartmouth students.

Our Dartmouth bubble includes people who do not realize their microaggressions and those who engage in downright racism. So, you ask: how can we provide people with the tools for dialogue across differences? Truthfully, nothing can force someone to engage in genuine and organic eye-opening discussions. The precursor for any effective exchange is willingness and open-mindedness. Participants in the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP), myself included, chose to participate in the program seeking to broaden our horizons and get to know people different from ourselves. For a series of reasons, other people have not chosen to participate in the program.

Alex Rego '24 RGLP Reflection - Cultural Embodiment: Culture as a Fusion of Mind and Body

Separation of mind and body is a hallmark of Western culture(s). As a product of a Czech-American household, my own interest in intercultural studies has mimicked this divide. Epistemology has for all my life been relegated to the brain, to intellect. I have thus always interpreted intercultural knowledge, intercultural communication, and intercultural conflict as being purely mental phenomena. Developing intercultural intuition, however, is far more comprehensive. Intercultural intuition is visceral, it is felt. All interactions are cultural, and thus all include a bodily component as culture extends far beyond the brain.

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