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

Rockefeller Global Leadership Program

Beyond Cultural Comfort Zones

During week six, the 17W Rockefeller Global Leadership Program cohort attempted Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art form that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music.

To say the very least, Capoeira is a workout. A workout that requires a unique combination of grace, control, and power. As the instructor, Fabio “Fua” Nascimento, led us through a number of activities, he explained both the physical activity, and the cultural history and significance behind it. 

We dodged and ducked each other’s limbs to the rhythm, got lower to the ground without falling than I had thought was possible, and attempted what looked like a rotating handstand.

With respect to the true art form, Capoeira, I can say with some degree of confidence that it will never be an area in which I truly excel. What our cohort ultimately encountered was physical challenge and discomfort in the attempt to perform a cultural and ritualistic art form. This type of physical discomfort in the face of cultural confrontation, unlike any such emotional and mental discomfort, cannot be denied.

Recognizing Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant: Asha Wills ‘17

Asha initially became involved with the Rockefeller Center her sophomore year by participating in the Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP) and in the Create Your Path program. These programs caused her to think about how she could align her academic and career interests with her personal goals. Asha next enrolled in the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) because of her mentor, who served as a student program assistant for RGLP at the same. Asha reflects that being a participant in RGLP was an “incredible experience where I met people I otherwise wouldn't have met.”

In her junior year, Asha completed an exchange program in Copenhagen, Denmark and volunteered in Peru through Dartmouth’s Center for Service, where she was constantly thinking about the principles she learned in RGLP. She kept in contact with Vincent Mack, the program officer for RGLP, and when she returned to campus, she joined the Rockefeller Center student staff as a student program assistant for RGLP.

Turn-takers, Pausers, and Interrupters

The Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) began the term with a session focused on communication styles and how they are informed by culture. One activity in particular introduced students to the idea that people’s conversation styles can largely be categorized into three patterns. The turn-taker: a person who waits until the other person is finished talking before speaking. The pauser: a person who not only waits until the other finishes talking before talking in turn, but actually allows for a pause or silence before talking. The interrupter: a person who tends to cut the other person in conversation off by starting to speak before the other is finished speaking.

RGLP participants, Frederikke Fürst and Marcus Gresham, share their reflections here on this particular activity.

Increasing Students' Intercultural Leadership Competencies

The Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) was first piloted in the 2012 spring term to develop the leadership competencies of students during intercultural experiences, both academic and professional, while at Dartmouth and beyond. RGLP begins each term on campus with weekly sessions. There is a culminating fieldwork excursion during its seventh week that helps students experience cultural diversity firsthand.

During the 2016 Winter term, 24 RGLP participants, along with the Center’s Deputy Director Sadhana Hall and Program Officer Vincent Mack, traveled to New York City for the off-campus portion of the program, organized in large part with the hands-on involvement of two Center Board of Visitors, Robert Tichio ’99 and Maya Wiley ’86, who work in the city.

“We have a unique opportunity to engage this generation of up-and-coming leaders to make a difference in the communities where they work and serve,” said Robert Tichio, Partner and Managing Director of Riverstone Holdings, who moderated a panel discussion of three fellow alumni on “Diversity in the Public and Private Workplace: Advancing Understandings of Race, Gender and LGBT Identities.”

Intercultural Communication Through Language Perceptions

“Do they teach you English in school?”, “Do your parents speak in English too? (Yes.) As well as you do?” or “Why don’t you have more of an accent?” are only some questions I have received as an Indian student at Dartmouth. They helped me understand how language was an integral element that informed one’s cultural identity, and the way one interacts with his/her environment. As I walked into Ms. Anya’s session on Intercultural Communication, I believed myself to be adequately cognizant of what it meant to communicate across cultures, but boy was I wrong.

Solving 21st Century Problems Demands Intercultural Competence

This RGLP session focused on Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art, something I had never heard of before. As the instructor, Fabio “Fua” Nascimento, led us through a number of activities, I started to piece together what Capoeira was: both the physical activity, and the cultural history and significance behind it. 

One of the parts of the program that I found especially thought-provoking was the partner-dance component.  Each person was paired with a partner of the opposite sex, and our instructor stressed the importance of physical closeness, in order to communicate via body language, rather than spoken words.  We were all awkward and self-conscious in the beginning, but by the end of the dancing segment, I felt as though we had gotten into the swing of things, so to speak.

The Art of Capoeira, Living Within Oneself

Our RGLP cohort gathered at Rocky as usual, but our regular garb was replaced by sweatpants and sneakers and there was an apparent anxiety on everyone’s faces.  We did not address this anxiety as we joked around and walked across campus to the gym.  Tension was building as we finally entered a room where a slim man with long dreadlocks stood smiling at us.  His smile was infectious and it almost seemed that he could not help his mouth from spreading into that position if he were to let it sit for any number of seconds.  We gathered in a circle, shoeless and unprepared for what was to come.  There were pieces of paper on the floor with foreign words on them and the video sample of the capoeira we were about to partake in showed people chanting and doing flips in a circle.  I had no idea what I was doing.

On Global Leadership and Consciousness

Hearing from Dr. Perucci during this week’s RGLP session was a welcome lesson on what it means to be a Global Citizen and Leader, and what it means to have Global Consciousness.

Dr. Perucci challenged us students to think in a globally conscious mindset. That means taking our preconceptions of what certain actions may mean as they apply to our culture and leaving them “at the door” as we step into situations where we encounter cultures other than our own. To be perfectly frank, that was quite difficult to do. When we watched an example of a culture act out a ritual, it required a lot of rethinking of power dynamics and ritual significance that I’ve inherited from living in a solely Western culture my entire life. Even then, I found myself struggling to grasp the significance of the events before me. In this, Dr. Perucci challenged us to develop a Global Consciousness.

Cultural Competence

When I joined the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program, I lacked an actual understanding of what the program really endeavored to achieve, or the methods that it would use. I knew that it was centered around the development of inter-cultural skills to facilitate leadership in an increasingly multi-cultural world, but I never really knew what this would entail, or even, what this meant. Even if they were to attempt to make us more culturally apt, I had no idea how this would happen.                        

I found out how this week when we were introduced to the IDI, or the Intercultural Development Inventory. Rather than just being bombarded with random training sessions, our development would actually be highly regimented, and our progress would be gauged using IDI’s own development test. So, instead of forcing us to attend as many lectures as possible on intercultural growth, our development would have a set routine, and rather than being random, would actually focus on the parts of our personality which needed further development.

Recognizing Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant: Jimmy Fair '18

Jimmy Fair ’18 considers the Rockefeller Center to be his “second home” at Dartmouth. Jimmy first became involved with the Rockefeller Center by taking PBPL 5: Introduction to Public Policy with Professor Ron Shaiko during his freshman winter. His involvement continued during his first year with participation the Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors Program (D-LAB), the Rockefeller Peer Mentoring Program (RPMP), and selection into the First-Year Fellows program.

During his sophomore year he participated in the Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP), and also began working for the Rockefeller Center as a Student Program Assistant for the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP).

As a program assistant, Jimmy’s main responsibilities were to send out vital communications with participants and head up the reflection and evaluation process. He spent the majority of his work time each week analyzing questionnaires and other forms of feedback in order to customize the program to student needs and attain the preset leadership objectives for the term.


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