A Leadership Program for Duke Students with A Global Mindset

Category: 2021-2022 Journal Page 1 of 5

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,


Borders: In the US and Italy

What is the difference between a legal and illegal immigrant? It is whether one has obtained a visa before immigration in most situations. While this seems to be a logical system, there are inherent inequalities within border regimes and immigration policies. Rather than a question of visa status, discourse on immigration should focus on the avenues to social integration for migrants.

Thinking through the past year of experiences that I have had in the Global Fellows program; I think that the most impactful global and cultural exchanges have come about through casual conversations with various members of the international community at Duke and throughout Durham. In the fall, I had the pleasure of organizing the English Conversation Club where there were frequent questions and discussions about how to navigate Durham. One week we had a discussion that led to explaining our pastimes to each other. Some of the participants were avid movie fans or fond of doing housework, not because it was all they aspired to do in America, but due to a lot of them having to leave their lives behind as spouses of international scholars and businesspeople.

It was at this point that I was struck by the reality of possessing an F2 visa in the United States – your legal presence does not mean that you can work. The F2 visa is an extension of the F1 visa that allows international applicants to come to the United States to study. There are some striking provisions of this visa though, disallowing the holder from working off-campus without approval. Since most jobs will only allow part-time employment for students, this harkens back to the requirement under the F1 visa that the applicant must have the financial resources to support themselves throughout the term. This effectively creates a subclass of the population in the United States.

The nonimmigrant visa system in the United States is still a relatively new process, introduced with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. This created the F1 program to allow noncitizens to come to the United States to study as full-time students, though does not confer immigration status. Students under this designation can attend full-time degree programs at universities or pursue language study during the length of their approved stay. The first step in the process is to apply and be accepted into a school in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System before applying for a visa. A visa application does not guarantee approval; in 2021, almost 20% of F1 visa applications were rejected and so were 32% of F2 visa applications. As such, the program acts as a check on foreign access to the United States and supports disparities in global access to education.

As a means of comparison, Italy provides another look at stratified forms of immigration that support disparities in migration. A crucial difference in the visa process for education is that those with student visas are also allowed to apply for a residence permit. After 5 years of legal residence, those with a student visa can apply for permanent residence. In Italy, the visa program is even newer than that of the United States since it was introduced in 1998 Turco-Napolitano Law as one of the formal designations to control the migration flow in Italy. Similar to the United States, there were no prior legal or formal protections or designations for foreign students before the introduction of these legislations. In Italy, migrant visas for study, equivalent to an F1 visa, only made up 8% of issued visas whereas approved visas for family, equivalent to an F2 visa, accounted for 62% of issued visas in 2020. What this indicates is a difference in the foreign demographics between the two countries, as the United States approved almost 5 times as many applications as Italy. Even more striking is that the United States approved F1 and F2 visas is more than 3 times the amount of issued visas in Italy.

These two countries alone indicate the importance of understanding the global movement of peoples across borders, especially in recent times that highlight contempt for rising immigration rates in both countries. The media in both countries, such as newspapers, disseminate public discourse about migration in terms of an issue of southern border security for both the United States and Italy in recent years.

One of the biggest developments in the United States related to hampering illegal immigration, denoting immigrants that enter the country without first obtaining a visa, was President Donald Trump’s, the 45th President of the United States, push to repeal DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, in 2020. This 2012 program that President Barack Obama introduced was designed to offer a form of protection for undocumented immigrant children residing in the United States to live and work. President Trump’s campaign made certain promises that were largely targeted against protections for undocumented migrants in the United States and continued immigration of this sort, such as building a wall between the United States and Mexico that Mexico would pay for. Fortunately, the Supreme Court rejected the proposal in 2020 to repeal DACA because President Trump’s movement was unconstitutional without supplying due reason to repeal the program, despite executive power. As the highest number of immigrants, documented or not, come from Mexico, this movement from President Trump asserts that issues with immigration stem from the unsecured Southern border.

Italy sees a similar development due to its location on the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean Migrant Crisis represents high migrant flows from Africa to Italy, one of the primary ports into Europe. Beginning in the late 1980s, increasing migration to Italy sparked policy shifts to regulate migration. Already discussed was the Turco-Napolitano Law, which was revised in 2001 with the Bossi Fini Law that created legal penalties for illegal migration in Italy that results in immediate expulsion or imprisonment. The criminalization of undocumented migrants reflects an overall hostility towards foreigners in Italy. The 2010s saw an increase in refugees in the Mediterranean due to the Arab Spring, which sparked Italian concerns about the provision of humanitarian and refugee protections for some of the migrants coming during this period. The political response to this new wave of immigration marked Italian concerns about abuses of policies such that new legislation was introduced in 2018, known as the Security Decree of 2018, which clamped down on access to asylum status for humanitarian reasons and increased the length of time that migrants could be held in detention centers.

As if this was not enough, additional concerns were brought forth about the security of the southern border with the Mediterranean Sea, documented by the Security Decree of 2019. This legislation made it illegal for any organization foreign to Italy to dock in an Italian to transport migrants. The owners of such vessels would be subject to a fine and the vessel would be seized by Italian officials. This demonstrates the frequency of sea travel bringing migrants from Africa to Italian shores, but also the strained relationship between Italy and Africa.

What these policy examples reveal about both countries is the use of policy against the needs of immigrants and the imperfections present in immigration policy writ large. While the legal provisions do offer a path for foreign citizens to stay in both the United States and Italy, there is still more than can and should be done to address disparities not only in migration patterns but the socioeconomic aspects of migration. My time in the Global Fellows program this past year has equipped me with some of the skills to prepare me to become a global leader, not only being able to understand the issues but to take the time to listen to others and apply different perspectives to crafting solutions. As my time at Duke has ended, I would like to pursue a career in international policy, which would allow me to directly work on effecting change for marginalized communities, such as migrant populations.

Final Journal – Thank You Global Fellows Program

This has been a memorable year filled with exquisite experiences that the Global Fellows Program has helped shape. I know that moving forward I will walk away with tangible skills and a stronger understanding of myself and the path that I am on. Events such as the International Development Panel, Spanish Conversation Club, and monthly leadership training have helped me continuously improve throughout the academic year. I’ve improved my professional skills and network, strengthened my proficiency in Spanish, and developed my leadership skills. This has all been highly applicable, as I lead a team of Duke students through a construction project within Bolivia this summer. All of these skills have prepared me for this journey ahead and I’m truly grateful for all that this program has given me.

Journal #4

The eight NACE Competencies for a Career-Ready Workforce goes as follows: Career and self development, communication, critical thinking, equity and Inclusion, Leadership, Professionalism, Teamwork, and Technology. Through the Global Fellows program, not only have I improved within these NACE competencies, but also how to communicate the skills I have gained. The following accomplishments statements represent this:
– Fostered community through a Global Trivia night attended by over 40 International students and their families resulting in a 90% satisfaction rate and 90% return rate.
– Communicated in Spanish 3 hours weekly at Spanish Conversation Club with native Spanish speakers from Peru, Colombia, Mexico, and Spain strengthening personal confidence and fluency in the language
– Partnered with an International Language partner in weekly cultural exchanges that supported them in acclimating to Duke and United States while forming a lasting relationship

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