A Leadership Program for Duke Students with A Global Mindset

Month: February 2023

Spring Journal Entry #2

  1. Honesty
  2. Communication
  3. Accountability
  4. Respect
  5. Fairness

These are the five values that I’ve realized I value the most in my relationships. Starting off with honesty, it goes without saying that a solid relationship cannot exist with a foundation of lies and deceit. Honesty and trust are vital to the longevity of a connection and as a result, the moment I begin to doubt the security in a relationship, that relationship is doomed. In my opinion, second-guessing locations and motives are a recipe for disaster. Communication goes hand in hand with honesty and accountability: Let me know when I’ve overstepped and I’ll refrain from doing so again. An open flow of communication allows all parties involved to feel heard and appreciated and often, people simply want to be heard out. Furthermore, taking accountability for mistakes and making efforts to rectify them builds trust and confidence between people and maintains mutual respect. 

In Nigerian culture, most of these values are held in high regard by the general public. But by a loud minority, they’ve been slightly warped. You MUST respect your elders…but don’t expect them to treat you the same. It’s not necessarily a two-way street. You’re expected to be accountable for your actions… but allow your elders to dodge responsibility, with the excuse of  “ they’re from a different time”. Always be honest…until you’re in a position of power as we watch our leaders brazenly embezzle millions of Naira. It really sucks to watch the individuals tasked with lifting our nation out of a rut suck the life out of it.

Within different cultural contexts, I do my best to keep my values consistent. However, the saying when in Rome do as the Romans do is always at the forefront of my mind. In environments where brutal honesty is frowned upon, I would be shooting myself in the foot by remaining direct and confrontational. Modes of communication may vary from place to place and it’s wise to adapt to the situation I may find myself in. Paying attention to the values that are prioritized in new spaces may just provide one with a new perspective.

Journal Entry #4

I’ve come up with a list of five values that I believe define me: Respect, Integrity, Responsibility, Empathy, and Kindness.

Respect is something I hold in high regard. It’s crucial for building positive relationships and creating a sense of community. While respect is a common value in Singaporean culture, I do sometimes feel like it can be taken too far and limit individuality and creativity.

Integrity is a must-have for me. Trust is built on integrity, and having a good reputation is so important. However, in Singapore, the pressure to conform to societal expectations can sometimes override the importance of personal integrity.

Responsibility is a value that I cherish. It’s important for each of us to take responsibility for our actions and make a meaningful contribution to society. However, in Singapore, the emphasis on success and achievement can sometimes result in neglecting individual happiness and well-being.

Empathy is a value that I believe is essential for a fulfilling life. It allows us to connect with and understand others on a deeper level. Unfortunately, in Singapore, the focus on success and achievement can sometimes lead to a lack of empathy and a disregard for the feelings of others.

Finally, there’s Kindness. I believe that by being kind and compassionate, we can make a positive impact on the world. This value aligns with the importance of hospitality and generosity in many Asian cultures, including Singapore.

In different cultural contexts, I may express these values differently, but they remain at the core of who I am and guide my actions and decisions. I believe that by staying true to my personal values, I can navigate even the toughest cultural environments and continue to live a life guided by my principles.

Fighting Competition: Grappling with Conflict Styles

I’ve never considered myself to be a particularly confrontational person. I participated in debate in high school – I believe that this experience trained me in how to handle conflict in a controlled, supervised setting. This setting, although highly constructive, could not be farther from real life. I prefer to handle conflict through accommodation and compromise – listening to the other side, and sacrificing what I can in order to bring our dispute to a close. Recently, I’ve been grappling with the notion that I don’t always have to sacrifice when conflict arises. There exist ways for me to ensure that my beliefs, needs, and desires are met, while still keeping the peace. These ways fall under the umbrella of what I would like to call constructive competition.

Constructive competition. What an idea. This was an idea originally introduced to me by my speech and debate coach in tenth grade. As a student officer, I was tasked with helping build team programming and run practices. Our officer team was almost always in agreement, generally agreeing with any idea put forth by one of our members. Our coach called us out on that, asserting that we needed to speak up when we disagreed. Even if it ended in a yelling match, he argued that our conflicts would bring us more closely together as an officer team and result in better ideas and programs for our team as a whole.

I’ve shied away from competition in conflict settings because I’ve always put myself into the role of peacemaker. For a long time, I considered competition to be antithetical to peace. For a long time, I would have preferred to smooth ruffled feathers and make concessions on my end, because I knew that I would be able to roll with it. However, I’ve come to realize that sometimes, what I concede isn’t the right thing to give up. Sometimes, what I am advocating for is more important. Of course, importance is subjective, but there are situations when the lines between objectivity and subjectivity are blurred.

Being a peacemaker does not mean conceding whatever is needed. Being a peacemaker means seeing the lay of the land and recognizing what can and should be sacrificed and what must be protected at all costs. This means that I must be competitive in my handling of conflict – competitive in the sense that I vocalize my perceptions and ideas, to ensure that important matters do not get brushed under. My process of handling conflict is constantly evolving, and this singular short post cannot do justice to all possible methods employable. As always, I am open to dialogue and reconstructing my worldview, to become the best global citizen I can be.

TKI-Conflict Profile Journal Entry

Pick one of the conflict-handling modes from your TKI-conflict profile (Competing, Collaborating, Compromising, Avoiding, Accommodating) that you use infrequently. Why don’t you use this mode as frequently as others? Do you think that you underutilize this mode? Are there situations in which this mode might be useful to you and/or others? How might you use this mode in intercultural settings?

I have rarely used the Avoiding mode, but after looking in-depth into the pros and cons of each mode of conflict resolution, I realised that there are many merits to using the mode, especially in terms of using the modes that I have hardly used before.

In the case of the avoiding mode, it can take the form of “diplomatically sidestepping an issue, postponing an issue until a better time, or simply withdrawing from a threatening situation.” I have not been using this mode much because I have often been quite an assertive person, always directly speaking my thought rather than circumventing a conversation. However, I realised that this mode would be very helpful in situations where the opposite side is very threatening or dedicated to upholding their opinions. Rather than directly confronting the other side, avoiding would help us maintain peace and also build social capital that we can use in later stages to articulate our priorities and concerns.

In an intercultural setting, the avoiding mode would be particularly helpful in cases of significant disparities between the two parties. For example, avoiding to talk about sensitive topics for particular cultural groups would ensure that nobody is hurt, while other conflict resolution styles would unavoidably touch upon the soft spots. Avoiding is also helpful when there is a lot of tension in the room, which often happens in cross-cultural negotiations. It can reduce tensions to a productive level and allow us to reconsider the problem at hand with composure.

Journal Entry #3

According to my TKI conflict profile, collaboration is by far my most infrequent conflict handling mode, with a raw score of 4. I was initially very surprised at this result, but after looking at the other modes, I was less surprised at the raw score for this attribute being so low.

I think while I do ultimately lean on collaboration as an initial mode of conflict handling in a given situation, if I feel that situation is still not getting any better, I tend to either take hold or give in to propel the progress of the project/task that we are working on. I think in the past this has been a useful tactic for me, especially because I believe I have a pretty good understanding of how quickly a situation is going to progress based on a decision made (i.e. handling a situation with collaboration or accommodation etc.). Therefore, once I realize that a situation is not moving ahead with one particular type of conflict handling mode (collaboration, in this case), I tend to quickly move on to another mode.

However, regardless of my tendency to not fully rely on collaboration in certain situations, it will always be my go-to mode when in a new environment or new project. This is because, in a new situation, you are unaware of the people around you and their working styles and thus the only way to create a sense of community and sense of trust would be to rely on collaboration. Similarly, when in an intercultural setting, especially when you are not too aware of the other cultures involved, collaboration would undoubtedly be the best mode of conflict handling to create a sense of warmth. Furthermore, I think everyone is naturally collaborative to at least a small extent and thus relies on it to some degree.

Journal Entry #3

With a score of 6%, avoiding was my least frequently used mode of conflict-handling. I believe I avoid (haha pun intended) this technique because it directly contradicts my beliefs and values. When faced with conflict, I find the best approach is to face the problem head on. This is evidenced by one of my most frequently used means of conflict resolution, collaborating. Simply avoiding discussion of conflict is almost never the solution; at least, not a permanent one. If an individual takes actions to avoid discussing conflict, the initial problem is left unaddressed. This indicates the problem will arise again another day and the time spent “avoiding” will allow it to grow worse. Whether the problem at hand is as large as political tensions between warring nations or as small as a disagreement between peers, choosing to disregard conflict simply allows feelings such as anger and frustration to fester. 

However, I do understand that there may be certain situations where avoiding conflict might be the best option. For example, in situations where the stakes are low and the outcome of the conflict is inconsequential, avoiding the conflict may allow all parties to maintain relationships and prevent any damage that may occur as a result of a heated debate. Additionally, avoiding conflict may also be a useful technique in intercultural settings, particularly in cultures where direct confrontation, especially with elders, is viewed as impolite or disrespectful. In these cases, avoiding the conflict might help to preserve cultural norms and relationships, even if it means temporarily sidestepping the issue. Nevertheless, I believe that overall, the benefits of avoiding conflict are limited and that it should only be used in specific and carefully considered circumstances. 

In contrast, employing collaboration can solve almost any problem and uplift the individuals involved to places they would have never been able to reach alone. For this reason, collaboration is a mode of conflict resolution that I use much more frequently and feel much more comfortable with. It ensures all parties involved in the conflict come together to find a mutually beneficial solution. By working together and actively listening to each other’s perspectives, individuals are able to identify and address the root causes of the conflict and find creative solutions that work for everyone. The act of collaborating can also help to build stronger relationships between individuals and foster a sense of mutual respect and understanding. Furthermore, by combining the strengths and ideas of each person involved, the result of collaboration can often be greater than what any single person could have accomplished alone. For these reasons, I believe that collaboration is a powerful tool for solving almost any problem and has the potential to uplift individuals to new heights.

Journal Entry #3

Collaborating is the conflict-handling model that I use the least often. According to the TKI profile, collaborating is a style that combines assertiveness and cooperativeness, meaning that the individual tries to work with others to find a mutually beneficial solution. However, I have found that it can be challenging to find the ideal solution that takes into account the concerns of all parties involved. This may be one of the reasons why I do not often use the collaborating style.

It is important to note that just because I have had difficulties with collaboration in the past, it does not mean that it always results in a complicated and compromising solution. In fact, sometimes collaboration can lead to clear and direct solutions. When faced with a group assignment or a large coding project that requires significant collaboration, I often set the expectation that someone may need to make a compromise for the benefit of the team. This can lead me to give up on finding the best solution that meets everyone’s interests. Nevertheless, the possibility does exist and my weakness in collaborating encourages me to try to utilize collaborating more in my daily and academic life.

In intercultural settings, collaboration can be a valuable tool for resolving conflicts and promoting understanding and respect between people from different cultural backgrounds. Collaborating involves working together with others to find a solution that takes into account everyone’s needs and concerns. In this way, it helps to foster a sense of shared responsibility and teamwork, which can be particularly important in intercultural settings where cultural differences can sometimes lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.

It is also important to be mindful of cultural differences in communication styles, as well as in approaches to decision-making and problem-solving. For example, some cultures may place a greater emphasis on individualism, while others may place a higher value on collectivism. Understanding these differences can help to facilitate more effective collaboration in intercultural settings.

Overall, collaborating can be a useful conflict-handling style in intercultural settings because it promotes active and respectful engagement between people from different backgrounds. By working together to find solutions that meet everyone’s needs, it helps to build trust and understanding, and to foster a sense of shared responsibility and teamwork.

Journal Entry #3


Compromising.  I feel as though I don’t use this mode as frequently as others because I often struggle to find a middle ground.  I often feel as though I am either ALL in, in which case that would be my competing, or I don’t really feel as though I have a horse in the race, in which case I would rather maximize group happiness and that would be my accommodating.  I don’t want to be so black and white, but finding the middle ground is hard for me because I feel like I either care about my own opinions A LOT and will push my ideas really hard, or not at all.  I don’t really feel like I underutilize this mode because I feel like my accommodating is my way of compromising – it is my way of saying that I do not feel as though I need to see my ideas through and I am happy to follow the group’s decision.  I don’t believe compromise is always 50/50, there are many numbers in between that still count as compromise.  There are definitely situations in which this mode might be useful to me and to others around me, but I feel like regardless of what the profile showed I feel comfortable compromising in my own way and collaborating with others in these situations.  This mode is definitely useful in intercultural settings in order to show my own culture, but let others show theirs as well.  Intercultural settings are always best when it is a mix of cultures, such as a mix of ideas in a compromise.  Sharing culture and creating this blend of heritage is an amazing way to be proud of where you came from, but learn from the others around you as well.


I find that being Turkish, coming from a bi-continental upbringing, and having a global perspective as a dual citizen influences the way I view the world and contextualize culture and identity. To me, culture is a complex and nuanced construct that has a profound impact on human experience. At its core, culture encompasses the shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that characterize a particular group or society. It is a dynamic entity that is shaped by the actions and beliefs of individuals, as well as by historical events, economic forces, and other factors.
I firmly believe that one way to view culture is as a means of unifying individuals within a particular community. Culture can provide a sense of identity and belonging, as well as a shared history and set of traditions that help to bring people together. For example, a defining aspect of Turkish culture is its hospitality and warmth. Turkish people are known for their generosity and kindness, and they often go out of their way to make visitors feel welcome. This is particularly true when it comes to food, with Turkish cuisine being a true celebration of flavor and hospitality. From the hearty stews of Anatolia to the sweet pastries of Istanbul, Turkish food is a reflection of the country’s diverse cultural heritage.
In addition to its rich history and hospitality, Turkish culture is also known for its love of life and its passion for celebration. From the bustling bazaars of Istanbul to the vibrant nightlife of the Aegean Coast, Turkish people have a zest for life that is contagious. Whether it’s dancing to the rhythm of traditional music or participating in one of the many festivals and events that are held throughout the year, Turkish culture is a celebration of life and community.
At the same time, culture can also be seen as a means of promoting diversity and inclusiveness. This perspective recognizes that different cultures can offer unique perspectives and ways of thinking that can enrich our understanding of the world. By appreciating and celebrating the cultural differences of others, individuals and communities can foster greater empathy and understanding, as well as cultivate a more inclusive and diverse society. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to experience this first hand, when I moved to Italy at a young age, started attending a German high school later on, and moved to the U.S. at 16. All of these places had differences in terms of culture, but realizing that culture is not static but rather is shaped and reshaped by the actions and beliefs of individuals, making it unifying and not divisive has made my experiences a lot more fulfilling growing up.
To me, the meaning of culture is complex and multifaceted, and can vary widely depending on one’s personal experiences, beliefs, and values. Despite this, it is clear that culture plays a critical role in shaping our individual and collective identities, and in promoting greater understanding and empathy between people and communities. Whether viewed as a means of unifying individuals, promoting diversity and inclusiveness, or as a dynamic and evolving entity, culture remains a powerful and inescapable aspect of human experience.

Journal Entry #3

According to my TKI-conflict profile, one of the methods of conflict handling I do not use often is collaborating. Collaborating, as defined by TKI, is working to understand our differences and seeing them as opportunities for joint gain, learning, and problem-solving. I feel that I do not use this mode as frequently as others because I often like to solve problems by addressing issues at the core rather than focusing too much on emotions or feelings. In order to solve a conflict at hand, at times, I think it is necessary to accept a mistake or wrong (whether that be myself or the other individual) and find a way to avoid such conflicts in the future. This approach to conflict resolution most likely makes it difficult to attribute conflict to our differences because to me, it seems like the conflict is not being solved.


Although I approach conflict resolution in this way, I do feel like at times seeking a more collaborative mode of conflict resolution, particularly in intercultural settings may be important. Sometimes it is difficult to understand that what may seem like common sense to me is not to someone else. This can be particularly apparent when our backgrounds begin to cross different cultures and traditions. Especially in such situations, where two individuals may have acted according to their culture, no one is at fault, and a problem-solving approach to conflict resolution may not work.


In such intercultural settings, I hope to first take a step back and think about how differences in the background may have resulted in conflict rather than immediately trying to think about a solution. As I look to develop my global competence and understanding, I think this will be extremely important to me, especially in different environments. I know that if I add collaboration to my conflict resolution toolbelt, I will better be able to understand those around me and work with them in times of conflict.


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