A Leadership Program for Duke Students with A Global Mindset

Month: September 2021

Intercultural Journal #1

As a Chinese Canadian American, I am made up of multiple identities. Having spent my early childhood in Canada, I was a part of a growing and diverse community made up of people with different backgrounds and experiences. When I moved to Oregon at the age of 10, I was quickly struck with many changes. Moving to a predominately white neighborhood, I felt pressured to mask my cultural differences. I found myself rarely bringing Chinese food to school after my peers expressed a dislike of the smell of my food. On days I did bring Chinese food, I quickly ate my food, so the smell didn’t linger in the classroom. If my 6th-grade self had taken the IDI, I think I would have fallen within the minimization stage. But since then, I have grown to appreciate the beauty of my Chinese heritage and culture. I spent 4 months living in China after I graduated high school and I experienced my first Dragon Boat festival there. I immersed myself in China’s deep and rich culture and made many friends from around the world. After my time in China, I made the most out of my first-year college experience in Canada. I became friends with people around the world like Dubai, Mauritius, Peru, India, China, and Myanmar. The multi-cultural community I had built felt like home as my friends and I spent many late nights sharing our unique stories.

I am very excited to make the most out of the Global Fellows program! To me, success revolves around growth. And to grow as an individual, I need to be vulnerable and open to new ideas, perspectives, and ways of doing things so that I can challenge myself and step outside of my comfort zone. With the IDI, I hope to grow from acceptance to adaption. However, I don’t think the IDI can encompass all forms of growth I aspire to achieve. I aim to become more and more critically conscious of who I am and my relation to others. I hope to find more time to reflect and question the easy answers.

Finally, last week I attended my first English Conversation Club (ECC) and Spanish Conversation Club (SCC) meeting. Coming into the SCC, I was slightly anxious and nervous because it has been 3 years since I had studied Spanish, and my previous experience learning Spanish had been confined to my high school classroom. During the SCC, I struggled to remember vocabulary words and how to conjugate various verbs. I was surrounded by seemingly fluent Spanish speakers. However, I felt comfort and solace within this struggle and challenge. I was surrounded by extremely supportive people who were eager to help. We were all there to simply learn and grow, to improve our Spanish skills. I am extremely excited to continue to have the opportunity to practice my Spanish skills in such a welcoming environment!

Intercultural Journal #1

Having grown up in a rather ethnically homogenous bubble in Dongguan, China, I never thought about what my historically positioned racial identity would entail – until I was pitted against a white background during my exchange year in Finland (2017-2018). Confronted with racialized exclusions and violence, I was disillusioned about the imagined ideal of the West, the torchlight of democracy freedom and equality, that my so-called international (read: deeply colonial) high school education had implanted in my mind. I found solace in writing reflectively and reflexively on my gendered and racialized experiences in Europe. With writing, I seek to create personal and shared spaces where colonial legacies and racialized marginalization are no longer camouflaged in rhetoric of “cultural” differences, where pains and anger are valid and transform into grounds for healing and for solidarity.

However, my rich cross-cultural experiences and my own identity as an international student do not exempt me from perpetuating some problematic assumptions. When encountering people who speak what is stereotypically defined as “broken” English, I was surprised to find myself making assumptions about their personality and capabilities. In fall 2020, enrolling half-time at Duke Kunshan University, I reflected on my own assumptions as a somewhat “global” elite with the cultural capital that allows me to become an agent for English hegemony. These critical reflections on the hidden hierarchies within so-called international education have piqued my passions for deconstructing such power, as I interact with people from diverse backgrounds.

As an international student, I joined Global Fellows to help facilitate programs at IHouse and beyond. I am hoping to learn and grow among a diverse group of peers passionate about diversity, inclusion, and justice. With the Programming and Leadership track, I hope to develop the necessary inter-cultural skillsets to foster a more inclusive, close-knit community that celebrates the spectrum of experiences and interrogates hidden power dynamics.

Even though we have only had two training sessions, I already gained a lot of insights into cultural exchange and event planning. I am partnered with a PhD student in the Art history department, who would offer Korean and I would offer Chinese in return. We also share similar interests in feminism and social justice, and I can’t wait to get to know them more!

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Intercultural Journal #1

Reflecting on my experiences with cultural communities in the past has shown me how closely this journey has mirrored developing film. A process that starts off in the dark, but begins to evolve sheets of film into captured moments. Moments that with hindsight offer clarity to my understanding and the necessary modifications to my perspective. Moments of my childhood could be found in an Ethiopian household, during a time where my cultural identity was reinforced by my parents and Ethiopian community. Soon after leaving home for boarding school, my lens dilated, offering exposure to cultures stretching throughout North Carolina and beyond. Now at Duke, it’s truly been exciting engaging in conversations that flow between languages of academics, culture, and more.

As I continue to develop my intercultural competence I hope to focus on two overarching themes- Self Improvement alongside Community Impact. My steps towards improving myself align with advice based of my IDI (Intercultural Development Inventory) report. Through an intercultural journal, I hope to continue to reflect on past experiences along with future means of engagement with an adaptive mindset. I am also aiming for a high community impact which can be measured through the significance and scale of the project. The successful implementation of community events hosted on campus for both domestic and international students would be a sign of achieving this. I also look forward to being paired with a language partner and finding a new perspective through our encounters.

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Intercultural Journal #1

Applying to the Duke Global Fellows Program, I was looking for an opportunity to meet more international students and learn about their respective cultures. As an international student from India, I felt suddenly too absorbed in the American Cultural at Duke and wanted to learn more about diverse cultures. Through, the Global Fellows Program, I have gotten the opportunity to interact with people of different backgrounds have gotten to learn so much about global perspectives.

We began by reflecting upon our group intercultural development inventory(IDI) and realized that more work was required to break into the final category as a group. We also covered things like the Iceberg theory of culture that made me think more critically about cultural diversity. Furthermore, I got a chance to meet with two language partners through the program which offered me a chance to learn more about different cultures. Through my meetings with Eunhee and Yue anchored by the strong awareness workshops with the International House, I got a chance to be more culturally aware. With this being merely the beginning of my journey with the program, I am eager to learn more both about myself and the complex yet magnificently diverse world around me.

Intercultural Journal #1

When I first applied for the Global Fellows Program, my primary motivation was having a chance to meet and learn from people of different cultures. Coming from Norfolk, Virginia, a large proportion of the cultural diversity that I was accustomed to was a product of having a huge military presence in the city. While I grew up in a predominately black ghetto, school was the source of my introduction to peers from different cultural backgrounds and countries. Due to this, middle school was a culture shock for me due to experiencing different languages from English, such as Tagalog and Spanish. I developed an interest in learning new languages to be able to communicate and experience various cultures in what I perceived as a more genuine way. I came to understand food as a meaningful display of culture, learning from my friends about the foods they were used to eating growing up and connecting with their roots. Additionally, Norfolk was home to annual festivals allowing people to share their culture with others, such as Greek Fest, which my family and I would attend each year. One of my goals was gaining greater cultural awareness through engaging through conversations and learning from others through new experiences.

Through participating in the Global Fellows Program and the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), I have also begun to engage with personal growth. Learning the difference between my perceived cultural orientation and my developmental cultural orientation of ‘minimization’ has given me cause to reflect. I think that my upbringing and socialization led to this assimilation of aspects of various cultures into my sense of identity to help develop a sense of belonging around people who are different from me. I would like to work towards ‘adaptation’ to be able to respond in culturally appropriate ways to people that are different from me. I think that I would be able to tell whether I was successful through engaging with others through the program this semester and being able to recognize and appreciate the significance of cultural differences.

This semester, I have two language partners: one a grad student from China and the other from Japan. We meet over Zoom each week to discuss aspects of American culture and practice English. With my partner from China, in exchange for learning some Chinese, I have been teaching Italian. There have been some challenges and growing pains from using Zoom and finding different ways of communicating. I have found the process enriching and enjoyable so far and I am looking forward to growing and learning throughout the course of the program!

Intercultural Journal #1

There is no ‘one culture’ present in my household, nor in my life. Growing up straddling two global cities across continents, with parents from opposite ends of the world bringing their own unique perspectives on life and child-rearing, I have never seen myself completely encapsulated by one culture. I see parts of myself in many. The main motivation for me joining the Global Fellows Program was to be able to share this unique intercultural perspective with my peers, and simultaneously learn more about their roots. I have already caught a glimpse of this from training sessions, where each Global Fellow shared their own special angles on questions such as ‘what does “ramen” mean to you’. I am excited to connect with and learn beside the other Fellows throughout the year, bettering myself along the way.

Success to me would be to improve my current cultural developmental orientation, ‘minimisation’, to either ‘acceptance’ or ‘adaptation’. My background naturally leads me towards a ‘minimisation’ focus, which means that you see people as the same and don’t believe culture is a differentiating factor between individuals. Due to my self-incorporation of many different cultures, this ‘minimisation’ is essentially innate. A strong goal of mine is to break down this mindset, and see people as products of their culture.

This semester, I have been paired with three different Duke grad students from Japan and China. We meet individually once a week in-person and over zoom to practice English and introduce American culture. It has been an amazing experience thus far, and I enjoy learning more about their backgrounds and culture as well. Overall, I am excited for the upcoming year, and I am sure that we will emerge from this fellowship program even more educated and globally-oriented than we already are.

Intercultural Journal Entry #1

Though it has only been one week since our first meeting, I have greatly enjoyed the program thus far! Upon completion of the IDI (Intercultural Development Inventory), I realized that there exists a great deal of work to do so as to attain the level of cultural competency that I ultimately hope to have. Being from a small, homogenous town in Soldotna, Alaska, my primary and most extensive exposure to various cultural communities has come through my involvement with Duke’s undergraduate international orientation as Co-Leader of the IHOP (International House Orientation Peers) program, which I have participated in for the last two years. Frankly, assisting with IHouse events and orientation has been among my most insightful – and meaningful, more generally – experiences since coming to Duke, and it has been fantastic to have been given the opportunity to interact with so many other students with such unique perspectives and backgrounds.

As a Global Fellow, I hope to further develop my intercultural competency so that I can more effectively engage with, and support, those identifying with cultures different from my own. I have also come to realize that one of the greatest resources directly available to us, as humans, is the unique and idiosyncratic experiences of one another, and these can certainly be more fully recognized and embraced by fostering the skills necessary to do so, which represents the purpose of this program. I hope to further develop my leadership abilities within the context of more culturally diverse organizations. For me, success would mean that I have surpassed my current developmental orientation, minimization, to that of either acceptance or adaptation, simply meaning that I have become more cognizant of cultural differences as a source of immense opportunity, and I will know that I have made considerable progress towards attaining these goals when I am better able to articulate my cultural views and values, as well as how these may be similar or different from those of others. One component of serving as a Global Fellow is collaborating with a language partner; I was matched to a Mandarin Chinese and English language and cultural exchange! My partner and I have met twice so far, and we will continue to meet weekly until the end of the program, and I believe that we will stay in contact after that, as well. It has been an exceptional experience, and I am very excited for the rest of this program!


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