Culture and Diversity
Culture and diversity are tough and complex subjects to talk about. Our current climate however almost demands that we ask ourselves a few questions about this subject. What does culture and diversity mean to me, to my family, to my co-workers, to my friends, to my neighbors? Are these two of the same? How are they different?
This brief blog on the subject will attempt to help answer these questions and it all starts with YOU! Culture and diversity are about how we perceive and think of others, but it is more important how well you know yourself. It helps to first define your own culture/values and how your experience of diversity differs from others. It also helps to recognize that we all are part of not one but many cultures (e.g., Religion, ethnicity, race, political views, gender, rural, urban, etc.).
Here are two things that can help us be better prepared to have this conversation. First acknowledging that another word for diversity is “differences” and that these differences make us no better or worse just “different.” Differences however can make us highly adaptable but also make us feel like we stand out when encountering situations where you find yourself being the minority. The second thing is Cultural Awareness. For the purpose of this blog we will use a definition found on http://www.culturosity.com/articles/whatisculturalawareness.htm;
“Cultural Awareness is the foundation of communication and it involves the ability of standing back from ourselves and becoming aware of our cultural values, beliefs and perceptions.”
Now that we know that differences and cultural awareness are essential parts of understanding culture and diversity, we can list a few suggestions on how you can contribute to this ever so helpful and necessary dialogue.
- Try to define your own culture in your own words and if you can’t ask your parents, siblings or close friends to help you define it. You’ll be surprised. There is no right or wrong answer here.
- What are the differences you have with family and friends that force you out of your comfort zone? Just being aware of that says that you are on your way of being more culturally aware.
- Assuming you are cultural competent is more often than not a sign that you are not.
- How exposed are you to people of different ethnic groups and what are the things that you share in common with them?
- Cultural humility is a key ingredient to cultural awareness. It means becoming a student of what you are not an expert on or familiar with and it also allows/recognizes the person you are learning from to be the expert of his/her own different culture. It is not good to assume and asking and clarifying are valued.
Go, ask yourself the questions! We are all unique. If you can appreciate and value the differences in others, you will likely also learn a lot from them. It becomes a win-win situation.