A Leadership Program for Duke Students with A Global Mindset

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


Intercultural Journal #1

1 Comment

  1. Ling Jin

    Hi Isaiah, thank you so much for sharing about your upbringing and socialization and how they have impacted the way you view cultural differences and interact with people from different cultures. There are, of course, power dynamics at play as well, in the sense that there are certain expectations and restrictions that the society and cultural institutions set on people. Another piece to better understand and engage with cultural differences is our understanding of our own culture and identity and how they impact the way we think and behave. For instance, when you say you hope to “recognize the significance of cultural differences,” how would you identify and define what constitutes cultural differences? There are of course obvious markers such as nationality, race, language, etc., but what about other more subtle things? I’m looking forward to reading more about your reflections and growth throughout this program!

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