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

Rockefeller Global Leadership Program

Paridhi Kapadia '23 RGLP Reflection

For the past eight years, I have lived in Miramar, FL, which is one city in the suburban conglomerate of the greater Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area. There has been a long history of immigration from South and Central America, and thus South Florida has a large population of Latinx people. Since I moved to South Florida, I have grown up with Latinx friends and in a largely Spanish speaking community. Although technically only 26.5% of the population in Broward County, my county, is Latinx, it has always felt like most everyone speaks or at least understands Spanish. Latinx is a broad term and encompasses a number of nationalities and cultures, and I grew up hearing about different cultural traditions from my friends at school, my Spanish teachers, and honestly most everyone I interacted with. Throughout high school, I felt like I was learning a good deal about the cultures and the languages around me through my classes, but I was taken out of my comfort zone several times since then. In junior year, over the summer, I went to a Dominican restaurant with my parents late one Saturday night.

Miles Rubens '22 RGLP Reflection: Tools for Enhancing your Cross-Cultural Capabilities

One of the most important tools necessary for successfully handling cross-cultural dialogue is respect. You might not understand every element of another culture or even go into a situation being aware of some of the cultural differences that exist. But respecting someone else as an individual, and respecting their cultural and cultural differences, even though you may not understand or expect them, will allow for dialogue.

Another critical tool is the idea of adaptability, something that came up again and again during the program. Being adaptable not only means changing the practices and procedures of how a meeting might go or the social cues of an interaction but willing and able to actually alter opinions and perspectives. Adaptability goes hand in hand with the idea of being comfortable with the uncomfortable; the first step of adapting to a new and unknown environment, situation, or culture is to accept the fact that you will have to alter how you approach many aspects of your life.

Mia Nelson '22 RGLP Reflection- Adaptability: Resisting The Idea That Other Countries Need to Be America, or America Enough

On our first day in Argentina, our group rode a city bus after our 14+ hour flights to Buenos Aires: we were hot, tired, and somehow it was morning when we should have been fast asleep. Mist, one of my classmates, wiped sweat from her face as many strangers pushed past us or leaned up against us on the journey. Afterwards, many students complained about the heat, the crowded streets, the Spanish that sounded nothing like what we had studied in classrooms. I was the only student willing to speak in Spanish that first week, and my professor was so confused. I hardly give off a first impression of being ‘rugged’ or even ‘brave’: I am rather awkward and, when my professor first met me, I was wearing thrifted Winnie the Pooh overalls and speaking a quite rusty high school Spanish. The  advantage I had  over everyone else, why I was happy to be in the scorched sun around people with a completely different threshold for personal space then me, was because I had done it before. Three months before, I had been living in Rome, Italy on a different study abroad.

Mia Leko '22 RGLP Reflection: Cross-cultural Experiences

Cross-cultural experiences broaden our view of what ‘normal’ is. By being too closed off into one’s own culture, ethnocentrism takes over. Having cross-cultural experiences, especially at a young age, teaches people about different customs, languages, foods, ideas, religions, etc. The list of understandings that a person gains through having a simple conversation with someone outside their culture is endless. It’s an awesome and easy way to learn about the world without actually traveling the world. This is why programs like study abroad are so important. It’s easy to learn about a culture by sitting in a classroom and having someone teach about a specific country. However, it’s a whole another experience to be able to travel to that place and get to talk to people from that culture.

Kaia Reznicek '23 RGLP Reflection

I grew up in a multicultural household of cultures that should supposedly have been drastically different yet with parents who carried these supposed dissimilarities in remarkably similar ways. They were both immigrants and consequently their drive and ambition for a good life for their families constantly shined through. However, I always felt that the rich mesh of culture and experience was always diluted by my setting. I grew up in a very white Boulder, CO where I began to understand my half-Chineseness as one of my defining characteristics. Thus, I would never admit that I felt completely lacking in my understanding of Chinese culture. I would never admit that I felt much more acclimated to my Czech roots, having grown up living a short drive to my Czech grandparents, their Czech cooking, and their rich Czech accents. Going to Dartmouth, thrown into a new space, I was forced to grapple with the role that my ethnicity played on my sense of self and understanding of my own culture. I was suddenly surrounded by students who had grown up speaking Chinese, who were full Chinese and some who were Chinese international students.

Julian Kiyabu '23 RGLP Reflection

One aspect of globalism which makes collaboration difficult is the amount of time it takes to learn to work comfortably and effectively a diverse environment. It takes a lifetime of working with and living amongst people of other cultures to learn how to operate effectively in a global environment: ambiguity tolerance, adaptability, respect, understanding, and more. These are all skills that never really learned, but are cultivated over lifetime with exposure to new cultures. Yet, they are the paramount to our success in a global environment. The time intensive nature and reliance upon exposure required to develop the skills necessary to function in a global environment is a considerable challenge to global collaboration. 

John Moreland '22 RGLP Reflection: Cultural Generalizations and Adaptability

A running theme through the term was remembering to draw on cultural generalizations to help navigate introductions and conversations with people from different backgrounds than our own. Although I was initially confused by the difference between generalizations and stereotypes, I now see how generalizations can be helpful, not harmful like stereotypes. Generalizations give us a starting point and a framework to facilitate introductions and conversations, but the work doesn’t end there. Generalizations, just as the name points to, are general. While they’re often accurate and a good reference point, it’s equally as important to be adaptable as it is to be culturally fluent in your generalizations. Indeed, interactions with others are personal and each will be unique, so it’s important to be ready to use cultural generalizations as a springboard for the rest of your conversation. For sake of continuing the metaphor, once you’re in the air, you must rely on context clues and your best judgement to adapt to the conversation.

Jessica Feltrin '23 RGLP Reflection: How Cultural Diversity Benefits Organizations

An individual’s culture is what sets them apart; it’s what has nurtured and shaped their beliefs, values, perspectives, ideas and many other facets of their identity. A good leader does not view culture as an obstacle but rather as a benefit to their organization. In fact, they will actively seek people of diverse cultures specifically because of these differences in identity. The way they see it, cultural diversity is necessary to bringing a variety of viewpoints to the table––something that is crucial when working towards goals that benefit many, not just a few. As a result, people of diverse cultures will feel seen and represented by the organization and are more likely to engage with it by sharing their skills and points of view. This in turn benefits the organization itself; by learning from each other’s range of talent, expertise, and perspectives, the organization can maximize its skillset and become more relevant, efficient, and successful. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, it is crucial for organizations to seek cultural diversity if they want to survive the global market or simply have the greatest impact.

Jaq Hager '21 RGLP Reflection

I joined the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program seeking tools for adaptation, cross-cultural communication, and a deeper understanding of my own cultural identity. I never imagined the program would open quite as many doors for me as it did! We learned how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, how to be vulnerable in front of a large group, how to approach certain situations, and how best to be a global leader.

During my sophomore and junior year of high school, my mom and I spent every other weekend tutoring a family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in English at their apartment. This family consisted of six refugees: single mother Safia and her five children. After each lesson, we’d spend time catching up as best we could, and sharing our cultures with each other. For instance, Safia once made us a traditional meal of fufu and often shared photos and videos with us from her life back home. In return, we put on an easter egg hunt in their apartment and I introduced the kids to common forms of entertainment in America such as hopscotch and snapchat filters.

Evan Yang '23 RGLP Reflection: My Cultural Socialization Journey

My culture has been socialized since a very young age. I come from a Chinese immigrant family, and they raised me under Chinese cultural norms. Many of the norms I am familiar with may sound absurd to a white American family. For example, I was never grounded; my parents would instead hit me with household objects. When I would visit China, the physical space also contributed to my culture. Meals were always held together at the dining table, and no one would start eating until everyone was seated. I always looked forward to chatting with my family over the dinner table. My Chinese upbringing heavily influences my culture. 

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