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Students reflect on Intercultural Leadership Program

| Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Four Saint Mary’s seniors, Caylin McCallick, Elizabeth Quaye, Yaqi Song and Ngoc “Ruby” Truong gave presentations Tuesday evening reflecting on their experiences with the Intercultural Leadership Program.

The Intercultural Leadership Program (ILP) is a two to three year program that aims to cultivate the participants’ “leadership potential to make a difference in the world,” according to the ILP website.

“The ILP helped me realize what kind of leader I am, but also recognize the leader in others and to help encourage others to do what they are interested in and to give them the confidence,” Quaye said.

There are six proficiency areas the program aims to develop. Although there are some experiences required of all participants, the students’ achievement of the proficiency areas differed.

“Particularly the leadership aspect of intercultural leadership I think developed for me a lot with my involvement with ROTC [Reserve Officers’ Training Corps] at Notre Dame,” McCallick said.

In conjunction with her involvement with ROTC, McCallick took courses in military leadership that inspired her to partake in the ILP.

“That was what really sparked my interest in studying intercultural awareness, because a lot of what we learned in our classes was about how to interact with various cultures around the world,” she said.

For Truong, the idea of finding her inner leader was a major takeaway of ILP.

“I believe that in every single person, there are leadership skills inside,” she said. “It’s not about nature, it’s about nurture. How you can awaken that leadership, and make that leader inside awake.”

Another proficiency area the students engaged with was diversity.

“I was inspired by ILP to become more involved in the community both on campus and off campus,” McCallick said. “So I attempted to engage in as many inclusive, diverse and supportive groups and projects as possible.”

Truong found her engagement with diversity through her Introduction to Intercultural Leadership course.

“By joining that course, I got a chance to I learned so much about the different cultures here,” she said.

A requirement of the ILP is a study abroad experience; for Song and Truong, that came during their time at Saint Mary’s. Song and Truong are international students from China and Vietnam, respectively.

“As an international student, one of my top priorities here is just to promote my culture,” Song said. “I feel a responsibility to make it more accessible to people.”

Quaye spent her Spring 2016 semester in Morocco, and found that her study abroad experience — combined with her studies of American culture — cultivated her engagement with diversity.

“I was really able to see the wealth of diversity within cultures, even our own,” Quaye said.

Song’s experience with participating in the areas of dialogue and creating inclusive communities lead her to become more at ease speaking about different issues regarding diversity.

“I think maybe this campus has not been very much exposed to diversity,” she said. “But after joining this program, I’m more comfortable talking about it.”

The last aim of this program is to make a difference. McCallick began her work with this goal when deciding upon her course of study and career path.

“I felt like I couldn’t understand how my career was going to collide with my social justice concerns,” she said. “And then I realized that making a difference in the world doesn’t have to be in waves. It can be in small pieces. Small actions can really have an effect on people in a profound way. Even if you can’t change the world in large ways, sometimes you can connect with people in small ways and that makes a difference.”

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About Jordan Cockrum

Jordan Cockrum is a junior at Saint Mary's studying Communications and Humanistic Studies.

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