Junior Thomas Wolfe of Leawood, Kansas, realized a dream come true when selected to intern for the Kansas City Royals. When COVID-19 kept him home, he found a way to virtually bridge the cultural gap between the U.S. and players in the Royals' Dominican Republic Academy.
“I was supposed to live in the Dominican Republic this summer to film and commentate games in the Dominican League. It also included teaching a class about culture issues within the U.S.,” he said. Now Wolfe engages eight players in the Dominican League virtually on a weekly basis to discuss U.S. culture. At times, those conversations include difficult or divisive topics.
“The players were completely unfamiliar with and curious about the protests that occurred. It was my job to have that conversation about race relations in the U.S.,” he said.
Wolfe felt comfortable talking through these subjects due to his experiences in the International Business Program at the College of Business. From networking to studying abroad in Costa Rica, Wolfe said all those experiences as well as candid discussions with Dr. Kalu Osiri, director of the program, helped him prepare to discuss cultural issues.
“We have to have those difficult conversations otherwise we can’t build a better society. If we don’t have those conversations, we are going to remain divided. When we have them, we can appreciate each other’s point of view,” Osiri said. “It doesn’t mean we will agree, but we can appreciate and understand one another.”
Wolfe emulates that same mindset when he speaks with the Dominican players, which also allowed him to perfect his communication skills in Spanish. For him, it is about being more inclusive in his perspective.
“It all comes back to maintaining a fluid conversation with people who may have had different experiences throughout their lives. As long as we're continuing these conversations with people from different backgrounds who give us different perspectives on life, I think that'll allow us to be more inclusive in the future,” he said.
Published: November 23, 2020