A Leadership Program for Duke Students with A Global Mindset

Month: March 2023

Journal Entry #4

I find the following five values to be the most important to me:

  1. Embracing Diversity: My multifaceted experiences, encompassing both my Indian heritage and upbringing in a distinct cultural milieu, have inculcated in me an appreciation for the uniqueness inherent in each individual. This value has been deliberately chosen, as I firmly believe that recognizing and embracing diversity is indispensable for personal growth and the cultivation of harmony within any community.
  2. Respect: I place immense value on demonstrating respect towards others, irrespective of their origins or convictions. This value emanates from my upbringing, which emphasized the importance of treating everyone with kindness and dignity. Respect is inextricably intertwined with the broader values of my Indian culture, which often prioritize the veneration of others, particularly elders.
  3. Collaboration: I cherish collaboration, as it possesses the potential to resolve conflicts and unify individuals in pursuit of superior outcomes. This value may not be explicitly linked to my cultural upbringing; rather, it is a personal predilection that, in my estimation, fosters robust relationships and facilitates success.
  4. Authenticity: Maintaining fidelity to my true self and expressing my individuality holds great significance for me. I have adopted this value as it enables me to explore my passions and identity, even in the face of cultural norms that may dictate otherwise. Although my Indian culture frequently extols conformity, I am of the opinion that embracing authenticity allows me to forge genuine connections with others.
  5. Empathy: I consider empathy invaluable, as it equips me to comprehend the perspectives of others, particularly those from disparate social and cultural backgrounds. My experiences navigating cultural variances have accentuated the importance of empathy in forging connections and bridging divisions.

In diverse cultural contexts, the expression of these values may necessitate adaptation in order to accommodate prevailing norms and expectations. For instance, while residing in the United States, I can openly manifest my authenticity and individuality through my sartorial choices and interests, even when they deviate from traditional Indian expectations. Conversely, when engaging with relatives in India who may be unacquainted with or discomfited by my distinctive expressions of authenticity, I accord precedence to respect and empathy. This modus operandi enables me to harmonize the pursuit of self-expression with the acknowledgment of cultural disparities that pervade both my familial and broader social circles.

While adhering to cultural norms, I concurrently endeavor to initiate meaningful discourse, which can yield an enhanced understanding of my perspective and values. In so doing, I can progressively introduce my relatives to the concepts of authenticity and individual expression, thereby illustrating that these values can coalesce harmoniously with traditional Indian values.

Navigating cultural contexts in which my values are not prioritized can be an arduous undertaking, yet I persist in remaining true to my values while adapting to the particular cultural environment. I aspire to lead by example, showcasing the merits of embracing diversity, collaboration, authenticity, empathy, and respect. In situations where my values may be perceived as incongruous, I concentrate on discovering common ground with those who may not share my values.

For instance, during my collaboration with dentists in rural India, I confronted linguistic and cultural obstacles. In this milieu, I employed empathy and collaboration to connect with my colleagues, notwithstanding our heterogeneous backgrounds. Our collective focus on the shared objective of providing dental care to underserved communities facilitated effective collaboration.

When traversing cultural contexts in which my values are not prioritized, I strive for patience, open-mindedness, and adaptability. I recognize that change and acceptance often necessitate time, and that cultural distinctions can engender a rich mosaic of perspectives and experiences. By remaining steadfast in my values and expressing a willingness to engage in constructive dialogue, I endeavor to foster understanding, inspire others to appreciate my values, and ultimately contribute to the creation of more inclusive and harmonious communities.


Values and Culture

As a Spanish-American student, I believe that cultural diversity is a critical aspect of creating a vibrant and inclusive society. In my opinion, the five values that are most important to me are:

  1. Respect: I believe that showing respect to others is one of the fundamental aspects of building strong relationships. Respect involves recognizing and valuing the differences in other people’s beliefs, opinions, and traditions. It is an essential ingredient for creating a culturally diverse and inclusive community.
  2. Open-mindedness: Being open-minded means being willing to consider new ideas and perspectives. This value is critical in a diverse society because it allows us to learn from others and broaden our own perspectives.
  3. Empathy: Empathy involves putting ourselves in other people’s shoes and understanding their feelings and perspectives. It is a crucial value for creating a more compassionate and understanding society.
  4. Integrity: For me, integrity means being honest and transparent in all my actions and decisions. It is a value that I believe is important for building trust and respect in all my relationships.
  5. Inclusivity: Inclusivity means creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of their cultural background, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. This value is essential in building a diverse and vibrant community that values and celebrates differences.

These personal values align with the broader values of my culture. In the Spanish-American culture, respect for others, hospitality, and inclusivity are highly valued. These values are often reflected in the warm and welcoming nature of the Spanish people.

However, I express these values differently in different cultural contexts. For example, in the United States, I may need to be more assertive in expressing my opinions and ideas, whereas in Spain, I may need to be more patient and respectful of others’ perspectives.

In cultural contexts where these values are not prioritized, I would navigate them by staying true to my values while also being respectful of the cultural norms of the context. I would seek to understand the cultural context and learn from it while also being true to my own values and beliefs. I would also look for opportunities to educate others about the importance of cultural diversity and the values that underpin it.

Core Values and Cultural Adaptability

My core values:

  • Love
  • Community
  • Integrity
  • Dedication
  • Inclusivity

I consider myself a valued-oriented, emotion-driven person in human-to-human situations. What I mean by emotion-driven is that when there exist intra- and interpersonal matters to deal with, I generally base my decisions on what I feel is best for the people involved. This does not come at the expense of logical decision-making; however, I firmly believe that logic and human interest are intertwined. I believe there exist solutions that can benefit everyone, or at least close to everyone involved. Love, community, and inclusivity are most strongly visible in this decision-making framework. Love manifests itself in the care I strive to demonstrate to each individual. Community speaks to the importance I place on collective decision-making, which feeds directly into inclusivity: every individual should be involved in solution-making, as every individual will be affected by the decision.

Integrity and dedication are two other values that I hold close to my heart. The dictionary definition of integrity, as defined by Oxford Languages, is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” The reason I choose the term integrity, over morality, is because I believe integrity involves one’s broader societal context and community. Integrity pertains to how one acts regarding those around them. It also involves honesty, even when it negatively affects you.

To me, dedication is also a collective value. Not only does it means dedication to your work, it refers to dedication to those around you: your family/chosen family, your teams, your project partners, your co-workers, and more. I believe that in order for our society to work, we have to demonstrate dedication and loyalty (within reason) to those we hold close.

I believe myself to me a more collectivist person than many Americans. This is not to say that I think Americans cannot have collectivist value systems; however, I do believe American culture is inherently individualist. American culture is strongly based in self-actualization, which often lends itself to individual pursuits – sometimes at the expense of others. I base myself strongly in the success of the whole, and what I can do for other people. I think that this worldview is based in my time spent abroad – largely in México from ages 8 to 11. In these formative years, I was immersed in a culture rooted in interpersonal warmth, outgoingness, and sharing. In many other cultural contexts, I focus on demonstrating my values of community, integrity, and dedication. I prioritize showing my care and consideration for others, and I strive to continue adapting this to the cultural environment I find myself in. This means adaptability. If I am in a culture that is less interpersonally oriented, I want to adapt my actions to their comfort level. I want my value systems to be constantly evolving, dependent on my culture contexts, without giving up on the values I believe to be imperative. I also want to expand my values, because I believe every culture has strong values that run deep. In my time abroad, I seek to incorporate new schools of thought into my worldview.

Journal Entry #4

List 5 values that are most important to you. Why did you choose these values? Do these personal values align with or diverge from broader values of your culture? Do you express these values differently in different cultural contexts? How might you navigate/experience cultural contexts in which these values are not prioritized?


The 5 values that are of the most importance to me are determination, health, purpose, empathy and courage. I think health is a pretty self-explanatory value since, without good health, it is almost impossible to work on yourself and work well with others. In a sense, good health can implicitly provide one with the other 4 values I mentioned. Furthermore, having grown up in India, where not everyone has the luxury and accessibility to good healthcare, I ensure that I don’t take my health for granted.

Similarly, determination is another trait that is vitally important to me, since it gives me the strength to work through any tough situations that are likely to occur in my life. Not only do I hope to have the determination to work through my own problems, but I also hope to have determination to help others work through their problems.

In a similar vein, I think empathy is a critical value when trying to find and help people that share the same values and goals as yourself. I think empathy is not just a key value so that I can identify and align myself with other people, but also so that I can better understand from other people’s experiences how to better myself. The lack of empathy would lead to a very isolated life, both in terms of friendship but also in terms of connecting meaningfully with the important people in your life.

Purpose is another highly important value, but one that I think is very difficult to grasp and define.  How do we define our purpose? Is the goals we set? Is it the people we aim to help? Our aim in life is constantly changing with our environment, and when I go back to visit home (India), my purpose for my future may change compared to when I am back in the US studying. Therefore, while this is a value I think is critical to my growth, it is one that I am still trying to understand and define.

Lastly, much akin to determination, I hope to possess the ability to be courageous through difficult situations and also through various experiences gain more courage. Courage and determination go hand in hand, but I think both those values are required in tandem to persevere through obstacles.

Journal 4

For me, values are more than just abstract concepts; they are guiding principles that shape my worldview and guide my behavior. Growing up in a Turkish household, I have been exposed to a culture that places great emphasis on values such as respect, honesty, compassion, responsibility, and diversity. These values have become an integral part of who I am and how I interact with the world.

Respect is a value that I hold in high esteem. I believe that treating others with kindness, empathy, and dignity, regardless of their background or status, is fundamental to creating a harmonious and equitable society. In my Turkish culture, respect is closely linked to concepts of hospitality and honor. I have witnessed firsthand how Turkish people demonstrate warmth and generosity towards others, and how they place great importance on exhibiting respect towards others.

Honesty is another value that I consider essential. It is the foundation of trust and transparency in relationships and is vital in maintaining integrity and accountability. In Turkish culture, honesty is similarly valued as a sign of moral uprightness and character. I have learned that Turkish people tend to be very straightforward and direct in their communication, and they place great importance on telling the truth.

Compassion is another value that is crucial to me. Showing empathy and kindness to those who are suffering is essential in creating a more just and equitable society. I believe that compassion is particularly relevant in today’s interconnected world. In my culture, compassion is tied to concepts of charity and generosity. Turkish people are known for their hospitality and willingness to help others, and they often go out of their way to lend a hand to those in need.

Responsibility is another value that I hold in high esteem. Taking ownership of one’s actions and decisions and being accountable for them is essential in achieving personal and collective goals. Responsibility is closely tied to concepts of honor and duty in Turkish culture and is also very heavily emphasized in American culture. I have learned and observed that both Turkish and American people place great importance on fulfilling their obligations and living up to their commitments.

Finally, diversity is a value that I believe is indispensable. Celebrating and embracing differences in culture, ethnicity, religion, and lifestyle is essential in creating a more tolerant and inclusive society.

While these values align with broader values of my culture and Turkish-American identity, they are also personal to me and shaped by my experiences. In different cultural contexts, I may express these values differently depending on the norms and expectations of that culture. However, it is important to remain true to one’s own values and not compromise on core beliefs.

Navigating cultural contexts in which these values are not prioritized can be challenging. It may require being flexible and adapting to fit cultural norms while still staying true to one’s own values. I am a firm believer that striking a balance between respecting other cultures and staying true to oneself is a journey that requires continuous learning and growth. Ultimately, these values are integral in shaping our attitudes towards the world and in creating a more just, equitable, and inclusive society.

Values in Cultures

List 5 values that are most important to you. Why did you choose these values? Do these personal values align with or diverge from broader values of your culture? Do you express these values differently in different cultural contexts? How might you navigate/experience cultural contexts in which these values are not prioritized?

My top 5 values are: health, family, humility, purpose and peace. I really value health and family because they are integral to a good life — without health, you cannot live; without family and friends, you live a lonely life. I thus perceive the two values as my top priority, but I do often compromise my sleep, which underpins health, at the expense of trying to pursue a better “performance,” prioritising homework and extracurriculars above my personal wellbeing. I am committed to focus more on my health next year by trying to get 9 hours of sleep everyday and focusing more on self-care.

Humility, purpose, and peace are integral components of my personality. I think these values align with some sub-groups of the population but not others. Humility seems to be more emphasised among the Asian population, while purpose seems to be more of a popular theme among college students. I do feel that I prioritize humility more in the classroom and in an Asian-community contexts. Nevertheless, I feel that my values stay quite similar across different cultural settings, but I do receive very different reactions to my value presentation based on the different contexts. For example, in the US, people would often say that “you do not need to thank another person or pay apologies so much,” whereas such courtesy may be seen as the norm in a more Asian context. I navigate these situations by first trying to understand the cultural norm in the setting and then adapt to the norm but still preserving some of my personal “takes.” Nevertheless, I do think that the positive values are universally seen as important, so having a higher rank versus a lower rank does not matter as much as I previously thought it would be.

Journal Entry #4

The five values that are most important to me are honesty, kindness, gratitude, respect, and courage.   I chose these values because I believe that they are critical for success in all aspects of life – from personal happiness, to success in relationships, to success in your career.  Honesty is the absolute foundation for everything.  You must first be honest with yourself before you can let others get to know you.  Honestly enables us to perceive the world around us with clarity and objectivity and this ultimately allows us to make things better – ourselves, our relationships, and our lives.  Kindness is about treating others the way you wish to be treated yourself.  It’s about doing what’s right, not necessarily popular.  It’s about going to sleep at night with the knowledge that your intentions were pure.  It’s about making sure others know that they are seen and not insignificant in this world.  Gratitude is about appreciating what you have and rejoicing in the story you are living, rather than the one you thought you might have been in.  It is about showing appreciation to others as well, not only for their words but for their actions as well.  Gratitude encourages the good both in ourselves and in others by positive reinforcement.  Respect is about acknowledging differences among different people, whether in regards to class, race, education, or something else, and still appreciating what those diverse sets of people have to offer.  It’s about being able to listen and learn from others, and adopting an attitude of us against the problem rather than a you against me situation.  And courage is the ability to do what’s right in the face of adversity and fear.  It’s about standing up for what you believe in even in difficult situations, and stepping outside your comfort zone to do just that. I chose these five values because I think that they make up the basis of a moral and ethical society in which everyone can have a chance to thrive.

I think that most people in the culture here in the United States think that they align with these values.  But one needs only to look at our political system to recognize that this is not the case. I think our society lends itself to a much more divisive culture, one of mine vs yours, and perceived right vs wrong.    I found that when I lived abroad, both in rural Bolivia and then again in Costa Rica, people were more likely to practice these values. There was less of a focus on color of skin and earning power.   Even during my three-week backpacking adventure through Iceland, I found that the general communities there aligned more with the core values that I resonate with more than they do here in the United States.  I really try to express these values similarly wherever I am.  And I try to surround myself with people who share my core values and hold on to the thoughts that if we band together, we can make a difference.  We can change the world, one community or neighborhood at a time.

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