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

Rockefeller Global Leadership Program

Recognizing Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant: Will Buell ’17

Will Buell ’17 first became involved with the Rockefeller Center after his experiences abroad inspired him to participate in the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP).

“I had just come back from Barcelona in the spring, where I had some really interesting conversations and thoughts, and I was worried I would forget about them when I came back,” said Will. “RGLP stood out to me as a way to continue some of the learning that I got to experience in Europe.”

After completing the program his sophomore spring, Will knew he’d like to become more involved with the Center and RGLP, specifically. Throughout the program and through a mutual friend, Will had the opportunity to get to know Vincent Mack, Program Officer at the Rockefeller Center, and was happy to step up when he heard Vincent needed a Student Program Assistant for RGLP.

The Power of our Power

"...“Nkali.” It’s a noun that loosely translates to “to be greater than another.” Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali. How they are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power." -Chimamanda Adichie

I am grateful that Dr. Uju Anya made us all watch Chimamanda Adichie’s Ted Talk on “The Danger of a Single Story” in which Chimamanda explained the theory of nkali. To parallel this message, Dr. Uju Anya’s discussion with the RGLP cohort centered around the power of language in portraying multiplicities. 

The Power of Self-Belief

I did not know what to expect going into this week’s session. I had overheard other RGLP participants saying Capoeira was like martial arts and acrobatics. We all met at the Rockefeller Center wearing our gym clothes at night rather than at the usual evening time not wearing athletic clothing. We made the trek to Alumni Gym as a group and met instructor Fabio “Fua” Nascimento there. The session started with us playing Brazilian instruments and singing songs in Portuguese. We learned about a concept called axé, which is like the social energy of a group as well as energy exuded by an individual. Fua commented on our axé throughout our session. After a couple of songs, we began dancing in very close contact.  We started with girls and boys paired and the boys leading. Then Fua explained how we would now switch roles with girls leading. He had me demonstrate with him this transition. This really put me out of my comfort zone since I am not too confident in my dancing abilities to begin with and then to have to lead the instructor in front of the entire group! However, I did survive leading him and everyone was supportive. 

The Distinction between Assumptions and Judgments

This week in the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program, we were challenged to think about ourselves and how our personal backgrounds shape the way we see the world, and impact the way we choose to engage with the world.

I think that I have a good cultural reference base for where a lot of my ideas and behaviors come from, but often I don’t notice how this cultural reference impacts the assumptions or judgments I may make about other people. Dr. Stuart Grande, Post-doctoral Fellow at the Dartmouth Institute, drew attention to the distinction between assumptions and judgments. The distinction is still something that I struggle to conceptualize in a real context. The assumptions I make about a person are based on the evidence that I see before me, along with the information that I have accumulated in the past. This however sounds very similar to a judgment making process, is it that judgments are perceived to be negative? I’m still not sure but I hope the distinction will be something that we get to explore more in other sessions.

Learning How to Lead Within a Global Context

I really appreciated the session with Gama Perruci. We began by tracing the shift that has occurred on a global scale. As corporations began occupying territory and establishing territory in multiple nations (hence multinational corporations), the boundaries between states became more permeable. Multinational corporations began to harness more power as they negotiated land and territory with different countries. We discussed, however, that there is a gradual shift that has taken place. The 21st century has seen the rise of technology that has radically changed the way that people communicate. The most popular form of communication fifteen years ago was to send a letter through snail-mail, which could take days to arrive. Now, a quick Facebook message takes just seconds. 

Assessing Cultural Proficiency Quotient  

A better intercultural competence can help us act as a bridge between cultures and be global citizens. A start to improve in any area is finding out where we stand now and where we want us to be. After week one at Rockefeller Global Leadership Program, I gave the Self Assessment with IDI. I responded to a 50-item questionnaire that evaluated my intercultural competence in terms of my  cross-cultural goals, the challenges I faced while navigating cultural differences, incidents I encounter around cultural differences and my techniques to handle them.

Intercultural Communications

One of the greatest opportunities that my Dartmouth education has offered me thus far (and offers to all who are receptive) is an academic context through which to better understand and examine the role that privilege plays in my life. Prior to Dartmouth I was lucky enough to have a family that instilled in me a sense of gratitude, a feeling that is inextricably intertwined with an awareness of privilege. However this was a sort of pre-theoretical feeling of privilege that I truly needed guidance in examining further. Our session with Dr. Anya was just another example of Dartmouth’s efficacy in helping students to better understand what it means to have privilege, where it comes from, and at whose expense we are in possession of it.

In her explication of social “praxis”, Dr. Anya illustrated the methods by which we can effectively apply the theory that we have been exposed to. Recognizing the need for application is essential, for, while it is invaluable to continue to learn about what it means to have privilege and live with privilege, it is not enough to stop there.

Working From Outside of Your Comfort Zone

On February 1, 2016, Mestre Marquinho Coreba, professional Capoeirista and teacher at Capoeira Gerais Boston, facilitated a RGLP session in which students were introduced to capoeira, a Brazilian martial art.

 During the Portuguese colonial period of the 16th century, African slaves invented capoeira as a way to camouflage the practice of martial arts in the form of dance in the hopes of rebelling against slaveholders. Capoeira developed into a combination of fighting, dance, music and acrobatics and represented not only a method of covertly practicing martial arts, but also a method of passing on culture and resisting oppression. Over the past few centuries to the modern day, Capoeira has evolved from a prohibited, marginalized mode of expression to an integral part of Brazilian culture.

Because I had never done capoeira before, the activities of the entire session were new to me. However, it was very fun to dive in and experience firsthand how the moves we learned, from the basic ginga to the aú cartwheel, correlated directly with the rich history and cultural traditions Brazil.

Being Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

On Monday, January 25, 2016, Dottie Morris, Ph.D., Chief Officer of Diversity and Multiculturalism at Keene State College, spoke with students about Cultural Fluency. Program participant, Arati Gangadharan, shares her reaction to the experience here.

Global Citizenship and What it Means to have an International Identity

Gama Perruci, Dean of the McDonough Leadership Center, Marietta College, facilitated a Rockefeller Global Leadership Program session on globalization. He began with a brief explanation on how the form of the modern nation has changed over time. Dr. Perruci then explained the three stages of globalization and how today, in the third stage of globalization, national borders have become permeable as individuals are becoming increasingly mobile while corporations compete for talent in the international realm.


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