What are you doing to become more culturally competent?
Something simple that I've been intentional about lately is diversifying my media consumption. I realized that many of the influencers I watch, pages I follow, books I read, shows I watch, podcasts I listen to, etc. are from people who identify in similar ways that I do. I spend much of my leisure time doing these activities, and it has made a difference in my perspective and education to be taking in more diverse content from a wider range of creators.
I enjoy reading and listening to stories about different cultures. I also like to keep an open mind and listen to other perspectives before I give my own.
I actively seek out opportunities to learn from people with identities and experiences different from my own. This could mean joining a club or organization, trying a new food, reading an article or book, going to a social event, enrolling in a course, engaging with media, attending a lecture or panel discussion, or following someone on social media. The options are endless! In my learning, I center the lived experiences of people in the communities that I’m trying to learn more about. I am grateful to have learned so much from people in the AAPI, Black, Christian, disabled, Hispanic/Latinx, immigrant, Indigenous, Jewish, LGTBTQIA+, Muslim, and veteran communities, along with so many others. No one owes me their story, so when someone chooses to share theirs with me, they are giving me a gift. It’s my responsibility to accept the gift graciously, to work past any discomfort of stepping outside of my own culture, and to understand where they’re coming from. I don’t have to believe or agree with everything people share, but I do have to sit with it and let what I’ve learned inform my actions.
I read. Get into conversations. Participate in training and other events. Listen to music and words. Watch films.
I read a lot. I listen a lot. I engage in conversation. Where and when I can, I do [take action]. When something doesn't sit right with me or I encounter a perspective I don't understand, I start by doing my own research. When doing research, your sources matter. I look for scholarly research and articles, and hear from multiple perspectives. I try to be mindful of how my own background and biases might influence the sources of information that I choose. I ask for help. Then I find spaces to engage in dialogue around the topic. I welcome the discomfort that may accompany dialogue around race, class, culture, and privilege because it's only in the discomfort that one's cultural competence can truly mature.
I am striving to put myself in places where I have the opportunity to talk with others who are different from me and learn all I can about what is important to them and what is salient to their identity. I attempt to read about both the history and current dilemmas of other cultures.
Personally, I've been actively building my facilitation skills, so I can be more effective in the midst of engaged (aka difficult!) discussions and passionate (aka entrenched!) perspectives. I'm a huge fan of TED talks and podcasts because they easily and accessibly give me access to others who are willing to share their unique life experiences. I take advantage of as many great Penn State speakers and events that I can squeeze in.
In order to become more culturally competent, I try to listen more than I speak and be realistic about my own gaps in knowledge. To this end, I am constantly reading and seeking out opportunities in order to fill these gaps.
I am a reader, so I intentionally chose books that will help me learn more about diverse experiences and voices.
I try to be more culturally competent by sharing ideas and experiences with others from a wide variety of backgrounds when I can. I read articles, books and more that are written from a different perspective than my own. I search for opportunities to move out of my own understanding and opinions and learn about how others view the world, its events and its people. I listen and learn when I know that I am not well-educated in a topic being discussed and then try to incorporate the new knowledge in how I act. I also value the opportunity to visit and explore new and different places both domestically and internationally to first-hand experience different cultures.
I regularly attend professional development, engage in conversations with students to learn more about their experiences, as well as read articles.
Currently, I spend time reading, listening to podcasts, and viewing films to become more culturally alert.
I am applying to graduate schools that offer multicultural counseling and social justice issues courses. I am also researching how we can make DUS's social media presence more accessible to those who are visually impaired.
I reflect upon my own values and how I might identify possible biases that I have that are unintentionally fostered by my upbringing and development. I aim to take every opportunity to attend an event or ask about a new word, fad, or trend so that I can do my part to remain an active participant in the desire to promote my own understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion for all individuals.
I engage in some academic research as part of my work about the lives and experiences of people whose backgrounds are different from my own. Another more leisurely way I try to become more culturally competent is by watching the PBS News Hour and 60 Minutes, news programs that often include great stories about the lives of diverse people across the globe.