MCPA Support Staff Conference – Session I: Cultural Competencies

*** Please note – these are my personal notes from the session including personal comments – pardon my typos, etc.

Donna-lee Mahabeer, Events Coordinator, UMBC – Programs and services in the commons – has MSW – mahabeer
– In order to better serve our diverse student population and work within a cohesive office environment, we must be aware of varying cultural nuances. This session will provide the audience with greater insights into the world of culturally competent practices.

  • Cultural Competency is to assess where you are and how you work with people who are different than you are
  • What is Culture? What defines culture for some? Religion / origin / sexual orientation / language or dialect / disabilities; ability / heritage / military / age / socio-economic background / ethnicity / gender /
  • What does Cultural Competency? Evolving – It is a growing process – gauge where you are in your Cultural Competency – the first part is knowing where you are and getting better from there –
  • 1 – your personal identity
  • 2 – Interperson – how we connect / learn from other people
  • 3 – societal / systemic – are we change agents at the university

Who Are You? Who do you identify as? In America there are “boxes” that you have to fit in – What box do you check? Other? Cultural Competence Continuum – really tough reading a giant table on the screen

  • Cultural Destructiveness – KKK / skin heads / Hitler – even with the intent behind our actions, some people may see it is clear – It is about the impact
  • Cultural Incapacity – “Archie Bunker” seems like a character but we may know people who are actually like that – “those people” – pick and choose what battles you take on – dismissive behavior can be harmful
  • Cultural Blindness – “I don’t even see color”… so harmful… if you don’t See someone for their color / ability / who they are – forces people who aren’t the majority to hide themselves – ask questions – is everyone comfortable with …? – don’t assume what is comfortable for YOU is comfortable for everyone else
  • Cultural Pre-Competence – I might have blinders on and I don’t try to learn about other people but I will start now
  • Cultural Competence – Information that you have taken in then you can share – Happy (holiday) makes that person feel like you care and included
  • Cultural Proficiency – Having different options – have things available and accessible

Cultural nuances / Inclusion / Sensitivity – OMG… teeny tiny words – unreadable – sorry

  • “What Are You?” – Better way to ask? What is your country of origin / Where are you from? (not popular) – Not an easy question to ask – Ask but don’t want to assume
  • Negative: Your hispanic, right? (you are making assumptions) Not popular with where are your parents from because you don’t know
  • Positive: Where are you from? What is your country of origin? Where they identify NOW may not be where they identify years from now. ISA uses: “What country do you identify with?”

Americanized – sometimes it is about fitting in because you get teased – we don’t know someone’s history so there may be a reason why they don’t identify with their “so called” culture – Be careful how we speak to anyone – don’t judge I have a student but can’t understand how he is pronouncing his name – how do you do that? Ask someone to spell it, phonetically Is it rude to ask someone to talk slower? Not rude – better than “can I speak to someone who speaks American” – “I want to speak to the black woman” “You don’t sound like you are black” Assumption is a dangerous GOOD JOB – Great discussion

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