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

Rockefeller Global Leadership Program

Joanne Wang '23 RGLP Reflection

As humans, we are programmed to want to be in control and often dread the things that are outside of our control – that of uncertainty. However, things in this world are never solely black or white; more often than not, we find ourselves in a gray area somewhere in between dealing with these uncertainties. For how often we encounter them, we should not be fearing ambiguity, but we should instead be learning to embrace the uncertainty of the world around us and learn to navigate it to the best of our abilities.    

Gemma Tung '23 RGLP Reflection

Many people define culture as something that many people in a group can all belong to. This definition of culture refers to ideals, practices, traditions, and customs of a particular group of people. The culture you belong to influences so many aspects of your behavior, like how you handle conflict or confrontation, how you express love, and also how you process and express emotions. The lifestyles and traditions that go along with cultures also influence how you interact with people around you, regardless of whether or not they identify with similar cultures or a different one. Further, people identify with their cultures at varying levels. Not all people who identify with one culture will identify as strongly as others do, and as such won’t exhibit traits of those cultures as strongly, however it does not mean that they are any less a part of that group. When an individual belongs to so many groups with different and particular cultures, what culture do they belong to?

Ethan Swergold '24 RGLP Reflection: Reflecting on Past Intercultural Experiences with the Lens of RGLP

Growing up in a privileged, homogenous town, I rarely thought critically about my cultural biases or practices. This entirely shifted over the past year when I lived in a small village of Achuar Indigenous people in Ecuador. I often hear the term “culture shock”, what I displayed upon arrival would be better described as “cultural ineptitude.” I quickly learned that my individualism, materialism, and communication style were not natural in any way, but rather a product of my culture. The Achuar people embrace collectivism, tradition, and spirituality, and are far happier than people I encounter at home. During my stay, I had few intercultural tools and thus created a false dichotomy in deciding how to act: I could fully maintain my cultural attitudes and behaviors, or attempt to live very closely aligned to the practices of the Achuar people. I chose the latter, and while this facilitated a large amount of personal growth, I now understand how I failed to maximize cultural differences to make a positive impact.

Estel Reeves '22 RGLP Reflection: Seeing with New Eyes: A Voyage of Multicultural Understanding and Discovery

“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes,” I wish I could be credited with this quote by Marcel Proust--nonetheless, I believe he captures more-or-less the same sentiment I wish to convey here.

In our discussion with Fua Nascimento, we discussed how one’s cultural upbringing informs their perception and worldview and, by extension, their unique experience of reality. The question then shifts from what is reality to--how reality is perceived due to one’s unique culturally specific lens and, alternatively, how that may limit one’s awareness.

Sophia Pinnie '23 RGLP Reflection:

I felt that my cultural and personal growth was cut short due to COVID-19, as I only had two formative terms on campus as a freshman. This past year has been ridden with social isolation; going from the liveliness and openness of Dartmouth to my small community in Pennsylvania felt suffocating in a sense. I wanted to challenge the stagnancy that accompanied COVID-19 and re-engage not only with the Dartmouth community, but the global community.  Within RGLP, I experienced a plethora of cultural experiences via Zoom that challenged my comfort level. In the session "Inconspicuous Culture: Understanding Other by Developing Self" with Dr. Dottie Morris, Dr. Morris challenged us in our breakout rooms to discuss immensely relevant and sensitive topics regarding Asian Hate and Black Lives Matter. In my breakout room, I was one of three self-identifying Asian Students who were eager to delve into discussions surrounding the recent hate crimes against Asian's in the U.S. and what they were doing to support the movement. I remember distinctly feeling a pang of nervousness and fear I would say either incorrect or ignorant that would've signaled to my group a lack of caring.

Jessica Montoya '22 RGLP Reflection: Comfort Zones and Intercultural Work

In one of the first RGLP sessions, we were asked to share a cultural experience that had taken us out of our comfort zone. After given some time to think and reflect, we were tasked to share these stories with our peers. I, anxiously recalling an experience, went first. My experience was one with a past coworker from eastern Europe who initially I had thought was being very passive aggressive and unnecessarily blunt with me. I described his actions - replying to emails with few words, wanting to get right to work on zoom calls, giving out more critiques than compliments – as a sign of dislike for both me and my work style. I started to feel uneasy working directly with him for the concern that I was unintentionally causing this seemingly negative feedback. But being someone who did not know him well, I felt uncomfortable telling him how I was feeling or asking him why he was acting the way that he was. In conversation with another coworker, I had voiced my concerns only to be notified that this behavior was not directed at me and that it was a very normal approach to work from the country he was from.

Ian McGrory '22 RGLP Reflection

This past fall I went to live in San Juan for two and a half months. I knew enough Spanish to survive, and I knew enough about Puerto Rican politics and history to know I did not know anything about Puerto Rican politics and history. I went for a job and did not know a single person there (even the guy who hired me had taken another job before I arrived. I booked a hostel to try and meet people, but upon arrival I found that people acted very differently. The residents seemed to all get along, they spent quite a lot of time with each other. But no one smiled at me, no one reciprocated the questions I used to break the ice (where are you from, what brings you here). I felt unwelcome, unliked, and alone.

Nicholas Mancini '23 RGLP Reflection: Making Culture Conscious – My Experience with RGLP

In my day-to-day activities, culture tends to be an afterthought. Even when I am communicating with folks who may speak a different native language, reside in a different country, or prescribe to different norms, my goal for the interaction (i.e., a friendly chat, group project, etc.) always overwhelms a recognition of cultural differences. RGLP shaped my perspective on these ordinary exchanges by bringing culture and intercultural differences to the center of attention. This conscious focus on culture is quite significant: cultural differences are always influencing interactions, so refusing to acknowledge the importance of culture is a mistake.

Julia Luo '23 RGLP Reflection: Vibe Checks and Adaptability

According to Urban Dictionary, a vibe check “is a process by which a group or individual obtains a subjective assessment of the mental and emotional state of another person, place or thing...grounded in a belief in patchouli, sage, or karma and sometimes veggie burgers.”

As a staunch believer in karma, I vibe check constantly. When choosing a coffee shop on Yelp, going on a first date, or traveling alone to a new country, I pride myself on my perception: the ability to accurately assess vibes. 

Growing up with immigrant parents, my childhood was defined by a hyperawareness of difference. With every passing glance, snicker, and face of shock, I became more perceptive of my behaviors and identity in the context of my environment. Somewhere along the way, I learned what was deemed acceptable and what raised eyebrows, what received praise, and what prompted gossip.

Sara Lockwood '22 RGLP Reflection: Reckoning with Complexity

As a hapa girl born and raised in Hawaiʻi, my culture is a mix of many. Half Chinese and half white, I grew up with the influence of both Chinese and American traditions. I grew up folding wonton and grilling burgers, playing mahjong and uno. I was also greatly influenced by the other cultures around me—Hawaiian culture, Japanese culture, Filipino culture, Samoan culture, and so many more.

My family moved to Hawaiʻi when my father was three years old and my grandfather, a marine, was stationed on Oʻahu. This has also influenced the way I move through the world. The military has always had a difficult relationship with locals since the illegal annexation of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. My family would not be in Hawaiʻi were it not for the millitary. Our home is a result of a settler colonial project. I am from Hawaiʻi, I am of Hawaiʻi, but Hawaiʻi will never be mine. 

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