A Leadership Program for Duke Students with A Global Mindset

Category: 2022-2023 Journal Page 2 of 4

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.

Spring Journal Entry #1


According to my TKI-conflict profile, one of the conflict-handling modes I use less is the Competing approach. Frankly, I believe this is fairly accurate. The Competing mode entails the enforcement of unpopular rules and discipline. As to why I’m less inclined to utilize this mode, I suspect it, in part, stems from the conditions under which I was raised. Nigerian society places a lot of emphasis on the respect of the opinions and ideas of older individuals, even in situations that do not warrant such. We’re often taught to cater to the egos of those that came before us, a ridiculous premise if I’m being entirely honest. As a result, Nigerian kids are taught to listen and avoid rocking the boat. The last thing we want to do is what would be perceived as “unpopular”. I’ve actively worked to dismantle this viewpoint but it often sneaks into the decisions I make. I wish to protect the feelings of others, often at the expense of my comfort. I suppose I must concede that I do underutilize the Competing mode. 


I believe the Competing approach is essential when quick decision-making is crucial. This can vary from times of crisis within a family to internal disputes within a firm. It’s occasionally necessary to put one’s foot down on certain subjects, especially when you’re certain in your stance. Furthermore, if elements of the Competing mode are not used, people may attempt to take advantage of your passive behavior. This is where I find myself struggling quite a bit. As I said earlier, the thought of being the cause of someone else’s discomfort makes me cringe. Hence, I find myself bending over backward to appease people who don’t have the same commitment to me, overanalyzing the comments and cracks I make. Regardless, I’m making efforts to insulate myself from my need to protect others before myself.


Interculturally speaking, the Competing mode allows one to defend their opinions about their heritage, within reason of course. It gives one the tools to discourage others from trampling the aspects of your customs they may not understand or appreciate. Moreover, when making decisions that affect multiple peoples, it’s of the utmost importance to speak up and contribute to the discussion. Those decisions will have lasting effects and the regret generated by not taking a stand will linger. To conclude, the Competing mode is a valuable tool in the arsenal of any individual, useful within day-to-day life and on larger, more formal scales. It’s one I hope to master to the best of my ability.

Gender and Age

For me, gender serves as one of the most fundamental influences upon my social identity. Growing up in a Girls’ School, I never felt that my gender “mattered”. I did not feel like my gender would constrict me from pursuing any particular industry or field, nor would it impact how I speak, act, or dress.

However, when I moved to Duke, I sensed the pervasive influences of gender. I noticed that there is a set of implicit behavioural codes and expectations on women. I noticed that women tend to speak quieter than men in classrooms, meetings, and conversations, whereas men in general seemed to be more confident, assured, and loud. Even though I was not intentionally changing myself, I evolved to fit the gender stereotype — such as precipitating my questions with a disclaimer “this may be a dumb question but…”. I felt more constricted by the social stereotype of girls, sometimes fearing that “I am not good at this” because women are not traditionally dominant in the selected industries.

I also felt that my age is a shaping determinant on my social identity. At Duke, we are constantly reminded of our class years, beginning our self-introduction as “I am a freshman/sophomore/junior/senior”. When entering my junior year, I felt a change in my attitude to class selection: instead of trying to find “easy A” classes, I prioritized “how much I can learn”.

Journal #2

The aspect of my social identity I feel most intertwined with must be my ethnicity and race. To me, being Hispanic signifies the history of my ancestors, and with that label, I can eternally connect myself to them. Not only does it fascinate me to think that people like me started the cultures and traditions that me and my family today celebrate, but furthermore, it also connects me with other people who share my same ethnicity in the fact that we share the lineage of cultures, practices, foods, religious views, etc. To add on, race is another aspect of my social identity that is meaningful to me due to the prevalence it plays in my day-to-day life. The discourse around race is rampant, especially with the privileges that come along with being white. America is highly polarized with regard to race, and we may not come to a consensus any time soon on the role race should/does play in our society. These aspects of my identity are highly discussed in my environment and therefore are at the forefront of my mind. Subsequently, other aspects of my identity that play a lesser role or are not as discussed are less meaningful to me. For example, my able body is not something that I take into account and could even be considered to be an aspect of myself I am ungrateful of. My friend group presents a vast array of races and ethnicities, but we are all able-bodied, therefore conversations that would occur in friend groups with a multitude of body times don’t occur. Discussions like the ones we partake in Global Fellows bring these topics to light and help us realize the inequity of the world around us from more than the mainstream categories. 

Journal Entry #2

An aspect of my social identity that is particularly meaningful to me is my Japanese heritage. Although I grew up in the United States, I hold a strong connection to the country of my birth, Japan. However, I didn’t always feel as close as I do today. Prior to middle school, I felt close to no connection to Japan. Whenever given Japanese textbooks to study, I always wondered, “why do I have to do this extra work when everyone here speaks English?” Yet as I grew older, I started to gain more interest in my heritage. I started participating in summer camps in Japan, building relationships with students my age. Even in the United States, I started viewing Japanese television programs and listening to Japanese music. I soon was very connected with my Japanese background and took a gap year to explore my roots further.


My Japanese heritage is particularly important to me because I believe it defines who I am. Although I grew up in the United States, I was raised in a household where the values of Japanese culture were the norm. I feel that as a result, much of the decisions I make are viewed through the unique lens of being bicultural and both Japanese and American. However, I do find myself leaning towards one side of the spectrum (either Japanese or American) depending on the cultural context I am in. When taking my gap year in Japan, I definitely found myself wanting to be “more Japanese” to integrate into the culture before being unique. Since I have come back to the US, I find myself looking to be much more American. Even though this may seem like I do not stick to my identity, I feel like being bicultural is a balance. I want to adapt to my environments to not only make them more comfortable for me but for others that interact with me as well. Being bicultural is not always easy, but I think I have learned to embrace this identity, and feel that it is a unique part of who I am.

Age and Youth in Intercultural Contexts

*Trigger warning: reference to gun violence, murder*

Upon taking the time to reflect, I realized that my age influences my life – in ways that I wouldn’t have expected. Living in the United States for high school, from 2017-2021, I witnessed many youth-led or youth-involved social movements. March for Our Lives came about during my freshman year, following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Conversations about mental health, including within my own high school, skyrocketed. When COVID-19 hit, youth urged one another and their families to stay home and stay safe. When George Floyd was senselessly murdered, young people joined their voices with the Black Lives Matter movement. Before moving any further, I believe it is important to acknowledge that youth did not necessarily start all of these movements, but often played a role in supporting and amplifying them. I also do not want to diminish the youth who did establish and lead these movements. Ultimately, I want to acknowledge the important role that each of these movements played during my high school years. They inspired me, because I saw myself in the young changemakers participating. For a long time, I believed that because I was in high school, I couldn’t enact actual change. I thought that college was when the doing began. The youth in these social movements showed me that my age could be power. That I could use my youth and energy to fuel movements for what I was passionate about. Yesterday, at a Social Innovation Around the World panel hosted by Duke-UNICEF, social entrepreneurs recommended that if anyone wanted to start an entrepreneurial venture, or to innovate and create something, or to establish a start-up, the key was to start young. Youth can be power. It is a source of boundless energy, of resilience, of strength, and of innocence. Innocence in particular is important. We see the world without jaded eyes. We can see other options, other possibilities, other hopes that people have otherwise abandoned. I am grateful for my age as a source of inspiration and motivation.

In different social contexts, age is an important factor for understanding how to conduct yourself with others. During my time in Mexico and France, age was never extremely explicitly discussed; however, it was understood that you should respect adults. Particularly in an educational context throughout my life, respect was and has always been given to teachers. I believe this was instilled in me throughout my time abroad. Returning to high school in the United States, I was struck by the number of people that I witnessed speaking confrontationally to teachers. That being said, I recognize the importance of challenging authority when something being said is incorrect. Moreover, sometimes when students lash out, it can be because of motivating factors totally external to student-teacher dynamics. However, there were still multiple cases that I witnessed, either of direct confrontation or of backtalk, when students were doing so just to appear “cool.” I think this can come as a shock to various cultures, such more collectivist cultures in East Asia that place a high value on respect for older generations and their wisdom.

It is precisely these cultural differences in values and global perspectives which influence how others’ social identities are perceived. We must be conscious of how each culture approaches values and identities – certain cultures appreciate different elements of identity more and less than others. To build intercultural spaces that welcome, acknowledge, and value all social identities, we must begin by trying as hard as we possibly can to learn about each culture and individual’s background. By understanding the forces that have shaped people’s identities, we ourselves can better understand how to interact with, appreciate, and respect them. We must take it upon ourselves to learn. These processes start with us.

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 #2

One of the main aspects of my social identity that feels especially meaningful to me in my gender.  Being the only girl with two older brothers really exposed me to some of the harsh realities of being a woman in this world.  I used to watch my brothers be able to do things, but when it came time for me to be able to participate it was always different because I am a girl.  I am not blaming this on my parents – they were simply protecting me and teaching me the ways of the world.  However, the world itself and society puts these barriers on women and tells them that they cannot always do all that men do.  If anything, I am grateful that my parents and family taught me how to push past those boundaries and do more than is expected of me.

One of the aspects of my social identity that is not as meaningful to me is my sexual orientation.  As a heterosexual woman, I have never really had a deep awakening in terms of my sexual orientation.  In our society, it is still normalized to be heterosexual, and so I never had any real experience that adds meaning to my sexual orientation.

Different cultures place value on different social identities, so when integrating into a different culture it is important to understand their values and how they might differ from my own.  For example, in Israel, a large part of the country’s social identity rested on religion.  In the United States, being Jewish is definitely part of my identity, but it is not something I think about all the time. It surfaces really only around the holidays, when I am often celebrating something different than my friends.  Otherwise, I really don’t think about it much.  But when I spent the summer in Israel, I was acutely aware of being Jewish all the time.  Their work calendar is based on observing the Sabbath, so every decision I made whether to travel or simply go to the market, reminded me of being Jewish.  Visiting some landmark places, like Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall, felt more meaningful as a Jew.  Israel is the country of my heritage, and I couldn’t help but by feeling more connected to my religion there.

I think recognizing differences is the key step when ensuring that people with different social identities are welcomed and valued.  I believe it is often easier to try and pretend as though we are all the same and as though those differences do not exist, but in reality, acknowledging those differences is much more important to making others feel valued instead of ignoring them.  I think by sharing traditions and participating in differing cultural customs with friends helps show others that even though this is not your tradition or custom, it is worth your time to partake.  I also think asking questions shows a curiosity and a willingness to learn and accept.  Knowledge is power. It is ignorance that can often lead to hatred and suspicion. I think engaging others by participation and questioning is an important step to show acceptance.

Journal Entry #2

For me, one aspect of my social identity that is meaningful to me is my identity as a woman, as generic as that might seem. I spent the most formative years of my childhood in an all-girls school, the school motto of which I can still remember: to be ladies of grace and leaders of the future. That empowering mindset always subconsciously stayed with me, engendering within me qualities of assertiveness and leadership (maybe not the grace part, but we can’t win ’em all). When I switched to an all-gender school, I started to realize that these qualities in a woman were not always encouraged, especially in male-dominated environments. While my somewhat disorienting tenure in a mixed-gender institution did end up dampening my heady spirit somewhat, I’m glad that spark was nursed in me when my brain was the most malleable. Furthermore, I was raised within a matriarchal household, so I was always really aware of and accorded significant respect to the feminine power. I think I am a person who truly embraces her femininity while possessing some traits traditionally thought of as masculine.

An aspect of my social identity that isn’t as meaningful to me is my religious affiliation. I was raised Catholic, and I still identify a lot with that culturally. However, I don’t attend church regularly, besides special occasions, and I don’t do a lot of things like Confession, for example. I still really respect religion, but I just don’t find it plays that big a role in my life.

One aspect of my social identity that takes on more meaning in Western cultural contexts is my ethnicity as a Chinese. To be honest, back home, I don’t really think about my ethnicity because ethnically Chinese people constitute the majority. I am well aware that I am, however, a minority in the United States, which affects a lot of different things in very complicated ways — including how I perceive myself, and how people react to me, things like that, big and small. Sometimes, I feel strange here because I feel an expectation to act or think in a certain way because I belong to a certain ethnicity or race.

I believe that navigating different social identities within intercultural situations is especially layered, because we also have to navigate cross-cultural nuances while simultaneously understanding the implications of different social identities. I think the main axiom we can follow is to treat others how we would like to be treated, which includes respectful and open communication. It is not possible for us to know every single cultural and social nuance, and each person knows their needs best. So it is better to treat everything on a case-to-case basis and find out each person’s individual needs instead of assuming.



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