A Leadership Program for Duke Students with A Global Mindset

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!


Protected: Intercultural Journal Entry #1


Intercultural Journal #1

1 Comment

  1. Ling Jin

    Hi Huiyin, thanks so much for sharing your personal experiences and reflection on the complicated history of and relationship among race, power, colonialism, and international education. As I mentioned many times, many of us who work in international education (both in study abroad and international student support fields) are grappling with this as well. I’m looking forward to hearing more of your reflection on this!

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