A Leadership Program for Duke Students with A Global Mindset

Month: February 2022

Protected: Intercultural Journal Entry #2

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Entry 2 – Language Track

It’s been fantastic to meet each of my language partners, though things have been somewhat difficult with COVID. As I had mentioned in my previous reflection, I have a Mandarin, Thai, and Portuguese partner! Since two of my language partners are actually enrolled in graduate / post-graduate programs, there exist some more obvious differences simply due to the age gap between us. A great thing about being partnered with individuals older than myself, though, is that they have been able to afford unique insight and perspectives regarding various topics, and most of our conversations have not necessarily focused explicitly upon each of our cultures. In my opinion, one of the best parts about the language partner component of the Global Fellows Program is simply being able to connect with someone with these idiosyncratic perspectives and develop new friendships.

In terms of more cultural similarities and differences, one focus of some of my conversations has been the notion of learning a second language from a young age. In much of the world, English has come to be a hegemonic and necessary language, but this results in a sort of linguistic complacency among many American citizens; few people are motivated to actually learn another language and attempt to become fluent, and this greatly constrains the possibilities for cultural enrichment and more intimate cross-cultural interactions. In many other countries, though, individuals are taught their native language as well as English from a very early age, and this proficiency in multiple languages opens numerous doors. These conversations have led me to consider how people from other countries are required to assimilate into American culture in numerous ways much more so than I have before, particularly in the context of language. It is unbelievable to me that many American citizens view speaking a non-English language within the United States as somehow disrespectful and ridiculous, but I think that our educational system partially contributes to these disparities; by not requiring any level of proficiency in another language, the English hegemony is only perpetuated and exacerbated within this country, even though being able to speak another language is an amazingly invaluable skill.

Since I hope to pursue a career as a physician, the topic of medicine and the perceptions of doctors arose with two of my language partners. Within the United States, doctors are respected and occupy a position of considerable social status, but this is not the case within some other countries. In some cases, doctors are actually looked down upon and arguably not respected at all. As of recently, this has been incontrovertibly linked to the contention surrounding COVID-19 and the vaccine, but I hadn’t considered that doctor’s may be viewed poorly in other places in the world given how they are typically seen in America. I’m thankful to be a part of this program because the conversations that I have had through the language partner component have been immensely insightful and thought-provoking.

Global Leadership Journal Entry

The skills outlined in global leadership are skills required by true leaders. This is to say that true leaders are not just leaders in a hierarchical sense, but are also true friends and teammates.

Global leadership competencies such as cultural awareness, learning from experiences, maintaining relationships, and communication are all traits that I have realized that I need to improve in both the social and academic contexts of Duke. I’ve realized that maintaining supportive interpersonal relationships in college is sometimes much harder than any class that I have taken. In terms of my professional goals, these competencies, processes, and challenges that global leaders must develop and address are essential in not only fulfilling my career goals in working towards ethical cross cultural inquiry in health-related research and communications, but also in fulfilling my personal goals of being a supportive friend, colleague, and family member. I think that I still have room to grow in developing all of these competencies, but I also know that I am beginning to build a solid foundation to continue to build upon.

I view the growth that I have experienced so far as a product of simply maturing. My all-or-nothing mindset that defined me in high school is slowly dissolving, and I have developed mechanisms to face ambiguity, communicate effectively and compromise when needed as a result. Especially entering college during the pandemic, I feel that I was forced to learn that things rarely go according to plan. There are wifi connectivity issues, new variants, new COVID protocols. These are maybe not my happiest memories, but they have come with the positive outcome of new perspectives that are perhaps more amenable to true global leadership.

I do hope to continue to build upon my leadership skills. I value my introspective nature, and I see it as a valuable asset to continue developing leadership skills. I think I also want to take more calculated risks in trying to incorporate these leadership practices into my life. Engaging in practices such as stakeholder dialogue has always been somewhat intimidating. I think that practices such as these benefit from trying new things and taking note of where there is room for improvement. I aim to strike a balance required of many global leaders to take risks, adhere to my values, remain open-minded, conscious of connections and similarities between people while celebrating differences. Perfection in global leadership is by no means something I think I can achieve in my two remaining years at Duke, but I consider global leadership to be more than an academic or professional goal that exists during my time as a Global Fellow. Instead, it is a matter of personal development that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life.

Language Track Reflection

We started this month’s training by intricately folding an Origami Masu box, but only through the verbal instructions from a partner. Well supposedly, I was moves shy from holding a beautifully made paper masterpiece before the time ran out. This task was intended to reflect the different skill sets required to lead and further strengthen our understanding of leadership. Communication was quickly identified as an essential component, but as I attended the following weeks training regarding Global leadership I began to think about how communication and other skills translate from a local to global scale. 


This is highly relevant to my studies as I pursue a Certificate in Global Development, where leadership extends beyond borders in hopes to achieve a mutual goal. I believe practice and understanding have played crucial roles in helping me transition into becoming a global leader.  For example, by working with Duke Engineers for International Development, I’m exposed to different leadership techniques, standards for communication, and more all within a safe space that facilitates growth through hands-on experiences. However, the journey to becoming a global leader doesn’t end here. I plan on looking deeper into the intricate folds of language and communication, that like origami, offers the opportunity to create something beautiful.

Entry 1 – Language Track

Our discussion of what makes an effective leader – particularly within the context of global leadership – as part of our first event for the Language Track was quite interesting. In reviewing various definitions of what constitutes global leadership and identifying some integral competencies that many renowned leaders have had in common, it became evident how these things will be important for me as I move forward. I hope to ultimately become a physician in an underserved community, and, with this in mind, some of the core competencies that were identified were cultural awareness and sensitivity, developing and maintaining relationships, effectively communicating, the ability to contend with ambiguity, and bridging intercultural communication gaps, which are all exceedingly important in navigating patient interactions and serving as an effective and compassionate healthcare professional. I have also undertaken a considerable amount of non-profit work, even founding my own substance use/addiction advocacy organization, The June Group, and these leadership qualities are indispensable when piloting community partnerships and implementing new programs or initiatives. After graduating from Duke, I hope to expand the scope of my non-profit while also pursuing a career in healthcare, and I believe that everything that was discussed in our first event is relevant to such endeavors.

In reflecting upon what has helped me to foster some of the aforementioned characteristics, I think that much of the volunteer work that I have done within the various communities that I have been a part of has been most impactful. I have done a considerable amount of work with underrepresented minority groups, especially within the context of substance use, and it is incredibly important to espouse each of the core competencies that I previously mentioned so as to most profoundly and empathetically aid those in need. I will certainly be prioritizing the further development of these skills in the future, and I hope to do so by actively seeking out opportunities to interact with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. My focus will likely be related to my non-profit work, as I’ve mentioned, but there are certainly many ways through which one can develop these “leadership” skills; frankly, many of these core competencies are important simply to become a more compassionate, culturally aware, and well-rounded individual, regardless of their relevance to leadership.

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