I am naturally an inquisitive person. I love to ask questions about a person's live, their perspectives, and their personal experiences. It's even more rewarding when you can get a taste of a different culture first-hand. because once you do you will never be the same!
Resilience is your ability to adapt well in the face of adversity while learning from self-evaluation. This is an important characteristic to possess as a leader. At Elon I am a participant in the LEAD program. A program that helps young, developing leaders identify their strengths, define their identity (chosen and unchosen) and how to best utilize their strengths as leaders in the real world!
As the founder of a non-profit and being involved in numerous extra-curricular activities, I have to have resilience. Sometimes coming in contact with many different people means conflict will arise and you have to know how to deal with it without causing harm to yourself or others.
In Costa Rica, though I was proficient in the language, there were many Tico terms and phrases that I was unfamiliar with. I was also in the country, the same time that Michael Jackson died. My host family spoke about it for a couple of mornings at the breakfast table and as much as I wanted to partake in the conversation, I could not.
Once, walking to school with one of my American friends, a group of male Ticos drove by and shouted Michael Jackson's famous call "Hhheee-hheee!" and sped off laughing. This hurt us both, and I was shocked and sad that they would do that. This was a moment, I had to have resilience. Apparently, some thought it would be funny to make fun of Americans in their country who's legendary singer had just passed away tragically. I would not want to make any visitors in my country feel the way I felt in that moment...this is why understanding and respecting diversity is so important.
Language barriers are inevitably restrictive to effective communication. There were some times I cried because I could not express properly exactly what I wanted to. I also missed my family. To cope, I would pull out my dual language (Spanish-English) dictionary and sometimes write out information or show pictures to help me express myself. My family was very patient with me and this led to a more enjoyable experience.
In Zambia, there was not a language barrier because most Zambians spoke English, but I had to be aware of cultural differences and respect them. In Ghana, I know that most will also speak English, but I will have to be very observant, identify their cultural traditions and respect them as well. For example, my Ghanaian professor told us that when speaking to elders (that is, anyone who is older than you, even if just by one year or a few months) it is respectful to put your hands behind your back when speaking to them.
Because I have not ye begun my journey in Ghana, I cannot say all that I will have to create a resilience to, but I will remain genuine, kind, respectful and open-minded. I expect to have an amazing experience dancing with the people, sharing with the youth and donating lots of needed school supplies and clothing!