A Leadership Program for Duke Students with A Global Mindset

Category: 2021-2022 Journal Page 1 of 6

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.

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.


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.


Journal Entry #2

In the social identity wheel activity we did during our workshop as Global Fellows, I was grateful to have the opportunity to reflect on my values and identity while also getting the chance to explore the beauty of the identity of those I spoke with. As we shared which parts of our identities feel especially meaningful to us, gender and ethnicity stood out for me. As a Turkish-American woman, these aspects of my identity shape most of my world views while also influencing my experiences. Therefore, when reflecting on who I am and what matters to me, I often consider these elements somewhat important. When someone initially meets me, they can visibly tell that I am a woman. Perhaps as our conversation goes on, they will get curious about where my family is from given my darker skin complexion and not-so-common name. Hence, being a woman and later on, the unique name I carry with me as part of my culture and background will often shape how my daily experiences and interactions process. Even though being a woman appears to be a strong part of my identity regardless of where in the world I go, I find that being Turkish has a more significant impact when I am not in Turkey. Here at Duke, for instance, I am very tight-knit with the Turkish community and find great pleasure in being involved with the activities organized by the Turkish Student Association while also spending personal time with other Turkish students. Since we are minorities here, I find that there is a special tie connecting us, and I value this part of my identity and reflect on it so much more than how it would have been if I was living in Turkey.
In addition to there being some parts of my identity that are meaningful to me, I find that sexuality and being able-bodied are not factors I focus on as much whatsoever most of the time. As a straight, able-bodied woman, I usually do not have to think about all the elements that come with being queer or disabled, despite being an ally. These parts of my identity just…exist, and I am encouraged to think about them often when someone points them out. As a straight woman my romantic experiences are likely to be easier than those of someone who might be trying to come out to their parents. Similarly, in so many areas of daily life, ableism is a prevalent issue, and I am sure I would realize these areas so much more had I been more significantly impacted by them. With that being said, workshops and activities like we have with Global Fellows are incredibly impactful as they aid us in learning more about the identities of others, and I think they make us more aware of our own privileges and thus encourage us to work towards amplifying the voices of those who may not have the same privileges.

Social Identity

While there are various aspects relevant to social identity, I have found gender and my cultural upbringing to be the ones I think about most frequently. From a very young age, I remember being expected to like certain things such as sports, the color blue, and cars. However, the color pink and an interest in clothes were deemed as weird and “girly.” As a result, I spent most of my formative years playing with hot wheels in bright-colored neon clothing from Under Armor, Nike, and Puma. As I got older, I began to question why these things were seen as feminine and a source of discomfort for many men.  I took a greater interest in what I wore and the colors I chose to include in my wardrobe. I am personally very happy with the growth of my wardrobe and interests, but I can not say the same for the people around me. My parents often find some of my attire strange, especially when bold colors such as purple and pink are at the forefront.  Nevertheless, their feelings of confusion are nothing compared to the clear discomfort felt by my relatives in India by certain articles of clothing. I remember my parents having to answer various questions about my sexual orientation and state of mind from relatives who were not used to seeing an individual of my gender dress a certain way. 

Ironically, my cultural upbringing played an even more noticeable role in my childhood and continues to do so to this day. I remember being one of the only Indian children at my elementary school and seeing others make strange faces when I would pull out home-cooked meals from my lunch box. I remember feeling frustrated when hearing others complain about the smell and spiciness of my food. I also remember being embarrassed when I occasionally showed up to school with tikka on my forehead. As I got older, these feelings changed and I began to feel a sense of pride towards my culture. It was a privilege to be able to eat food from my motherland and to practice religious values that had been passed down for hundreds of years. At Duke, I’ve found a rich community of individuals who share my cultural background and celebrate traditional events such as Diwali, Holi, and many others. I am often reminded of my culture on campus and it has given me a way to connect with many peers.

Whenever I meet individuals with social identities different from my own, I try to recall the way I felt when I was younger. The feelings of discomfort and frustration due to the insensitivity others showed my culture impacted me for years. Additionally, in the context of gender, there are still moments when I feel uncomfortable with certain choices. I would never want to bring that feeling on another individual for choices they have made regarding their social identity. The identity they have chosen is a result of their upbringing, life experiences, and those around them. As such, I try to take the time to understand their unique perceptive and use it as an opportunity to grow my own. 

Journal Entry #2

When asked to consider what aspects of my identity I consider the least, I’m thrown a bit. Frankly, I think it goes without saying that we tend to think more about the facets of ourselves that we aren’t quite allowed to forget about. As a Black man in America,  I have to be hyper-conscious of the way I carry myself. It’s disappointing that the biases people hold toward me purely based on my skin color have very real consequences, but they do. I do have to acknowledge that over my time in the United States, this realization has presented an interesting contrast with the parts of me I was more concerned with back home. Nigeria is a homogenous country and its demographics are vastly different from the States’. Growing up, I was much more aware of the presence of my vitiligo. Compounded with a lack of education on the subject within the general population, I was subject to stares and rude questions. It really puts into perspective how easily our physical appearances affect our interactions within society.


On the topic of components of my identity I don’t consider as often, my gender comes to mind. I’m fairly comfortable in my identity as a cisgender man and as such, I’m afforded certain privileges that trans or non-gender conforming individuals are not. We as a society need to do a much better job at ensuring all individuals regardless of how they choose to identify are accommodated to the fullest extent. The laws that are being passed to prevent trans kids from having access to life-saving healthcare are examples of what we need to not do. We need to realize that there are people whose experiences are wildly different from ours and thus, we cannot expect to fully understand all identities. And that’s alright. We just need to remember to respect them.

Journal Entry #1

To me, culture represents how one lives their life. Our beliefs, values, traditions, and any other element that is passed on for generations and that plays a role in how we view the world is part of our culture. As a Turkish-American woman who has had the opportunity to live in various parts of the world, I believe that I carry my culture around the globe with me. Realizing the line between adaptation and assimilation has been a habit that has helped me stay true to my culture and values over time.

The first time I encountered a different culture was at the Italian elementary school I stepped foot into when I was eight. Sitting there nervously, not understanding a word of Italian, I received a note from a girl across the class. Looking bluntly at the paper, I questioned what “Ti voglio bene (“love you lots” in Italian)” meant. The girl patiently tried to explain the word to me through non-verbal language by shaping her hands like a disoriented, cute heart. “Ti voglio bene” was the first phrase I learned in a foreign language. It introduced me to the beauty of a new world that comes with understanding people who are not necessarily sharing the same experiences — or even the same language as me. The note I received that day sowed the seeds of the value I give to understanding and connecting with others’ truth by discovering what is unknown and unfamiliar. In the upcoming years of my life, many other factors led me to be a woman who values diversity and human experience.

After my experiences in Italy, throughout the upcoming years of my life, I was fortunate enough to engage with other cultures as well. The German boarding school I attended for about two years was one of these. It was fascinating to observe the differences between German and Turkish culture and investigate how these two may have influenced each other throughout the movement of Turkish immigrants from Turkey to Germany in the 1960s for the job opportunities in the region. My time in Germany and the period I spent studying German has taught me the beauty of the language and the culture and once again reminded me of the importance of bonding with a community and culture through language.

Lastly, perhaps the biggest cultural adjustment I encountered was after moving to the United States. It took me a minute to learn how delicious Southern food tastes and perhaps even longer to get used to some of the slang, such as “drip, dope, bet, fr (for real),” etc. and I still learn new ones every day! Overall though, through my previous experiences and by having an open-minded approach during the process, I got used to my new home and grew to love my community and surroundings.
Now, as a second year at Duke – an institution with so many different cultures and diverse group of people – I realize that I enjoy adapting my character to that of a rainbow: each color representing a unique aspect of my identity becomes even more special when blended with other colors to create a gorgeous visual feast.

Lento, Suave 

“Lento Lento Lento Lento


Suave Suave Suave Suave

Lentico …”


Las últimas palabras de Mario Puglia’s canción Eucalipto. Este palabras están en mi cabeza mientras me preparo para reunirme con mis amigos en la terraza afuera. Me dirijo a la mesa con esta canción, me recuerda la vida que dejé atrás y de lo que me ha enseñado España. Por un lado, hay una vida donde siento que siempre estoy corriendo. Por el otro lado, hay una nueva vida que es más tranquila y siento como estoy en el momento. Lo puedo ver cuando miro la forma en que la gente se viste y lo veo especialmente en la forma en que se prepara la comida. Hay un aprecio por tomar las cosas con calma aquí en Madrid.


Por supuesto, las bebidas se piden primero y entonces pedimos una jarra de sangría. La sangría, una mezcla muy deliciosa de vino, trozos de fruta, gaseosa, algún licor y azúcar, es un poco turístico pero todavía elegimos sobre la cerveza que es más común. Próximo, la comida. Patatas Bravas, tortillas españolas, croquetas, etc. la lista nunca termina. Cada plato es más rico que el plato anterior. Además, la comida es suave en tu estómago y no haces un colchón con las tapas. Puedes probar todo con gusto. Pero la noche no termina con comida. Terminó con conversaciones, bromas y nuevos recuerdos.


Das un paso

Pero luego

Te arrepientes

Vas tan rápido

Que olvidas

El presente”

La comida es lo que nos une, pero son estos momentos lentos y suaves los que nos mantienen unidos. Como dicen este palabras, cuando estoy en Madrid no quiero ir tan rápido. Quiero estar en cada momento presente.

Imagen 1: Esta foto es la comida nos pedimos y la describí en este blog.

Imagen 2: Esta foto es una Sprite, Sangría Blanca, Sangría, y Tinto de Verano que tiene un bonito patrón cuando se alinea.

Imagen 3: Esta foto es sobre de un plato (Empanadas: una de carne de res y una de queso; ¡Un Mango También!) que comí cuando estuve en mi casa. Sabía que hable sobre de comiendo afuera, pero la idea es muy similar en las casa. Con mi madre de Madrid y sus hijas, compartimos historias a la mesa y hablamos por mucho tiempo.

Imagen 1

Imagen 2

Imagen 3

Un abrazo,


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