A Leadership Program for Duke Students with A Global Mindset

Author: Raghav Rasal

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 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 #2


Arguably the most important social identity to me is my Indian upbringing and values. I think this is not just the case because I spent my formative years in the country, but also because, as I left India and moved around to many other places, I noticed that I was somewhat losing touch with my Indian roots. Ever since this feeling crept in, I have doubled down on my efforts to retain my Indian sensibilities. Today, I pride myself in still being able to converse fluently in 2 Indian languages and keeping mostly in Indian culture. While I am glad that I was able to expand my view of the world by living in countries that are very different from India, I still find myself thinking about most issues and problems through an Indian mindset and I think that no matter how many more years I spend living outside India, this mindset and my Indian background will never rub off.

I have found that my Indian background has definitely had different interpretations in the different societies I have lived in. I found that during my time in Japan and Taiwan, Indians were held in very high regard. Apart from the stereotypical values of being nerdy and hardworking, Indians were perceived to be very welcoming and family-oriented people. Indian food is a very popular cuisine in East Asia, and the fact that almost any Indian you could find in Taiwan and Japan had taken an effort to learn the local language and culture, gave the impression that Indians really strived to acclimatize and integrate into the local community. However, when I moved to the UAE, I was exposed to a completely different perspective. Since Indians are the biggest represented race in the UAE (even more than the locals), Indians weren’t put on the pedestal as they often were in Taiwan and Japan. My time in the UAE was the first time in a decade that I was surrounded by a culture that I recognized and by people who looked similar to me and already knew about my culture and upbringing.

Given my experiences in countries that are and aren’t very similar to my Indian culture, I have experienced feelings ranging from alienation to feelings of belonging, I heavily empathize with people who aren’t surrounded by people from their culture/country. To this end, I have always strived to initiate discussions with such people and I am hopeful that the Global Fellows Program will enable me to improve on this competency.

Journal Entry #1

To me, culture refers to how one’s environment growing up has an effect on the way one thinks and acts. These experiences not only guide us in acting as a barometer of right and wrong, but also enable us to connect with other people who share our views more easily. Culture not just acts as a moral compass for us to make our decisions, but also shines through our personality.

Although I have grown up in numerous countries, I still believe that the culture that has predominantly been ingrained in me is that of India. To me, the main crux of Indian culture is that it is highly hierarchical. Whether it be in terms of how you speak to a member of your family or the subject you decide to study at college, everything is organized and perceived in rankings and in comparison to something else. Having had this mentality ingrained in me at a very young age, I was quite a focused child: I prioritized activities in the order that they would help me grow and develop, and while this definitely had its benefits in the sense of keeping me disciplined, in hindsight, it probably made me very one dimensional in my thinking.

However, after moving abroad to various countries, these perceptions of mine were challenged quite quickly. In Japan, while order and discipline were huge aspects of the culture, there was a pleasantly surprising lack of judgment in the culture. People would work tirelessly during the day, but almost always end it by going to a bar with their work colleagues and drinking as much as they could, fondly known as nominication. In Taiwan, I was introduced to a further sense of freedom, whereby many people prided themselves not because of the company they worked for or the position they held, but rather on their hobbies/passions and service to the local community. One more relocation to the UAE brought me to a society more akin to my experiences in India, but with a stronger sense of religion and spirituality. Surrounded by places of worship and a sense of religious responsibility that permeated even among those of my age, I too subconsciously started to try and understand more about my religious beliefs, and mark my time in the UAE as the beginning of my exploration into religion.

Today, having made one more transition to the US 3 years ago, I am still in the midst of processing all the aforementioned cultural experiences in my attempt to understand what my exact cultural values exactly are. Regardless of whether I align with and understand one culture more than another, I will always be grateful for how these experiences have shaped my identity today.

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