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Cultural Competence

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Homes from the Heart Inc.

on 8 September 2014

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Transcript of Cultural Competence

Cultural Competence
What is Culture?
Cultural competence
is about how
we interact with people who are different
from us.
Some typical values in the USA:

Suspending Judgment

(identity in individual)

("The American Dream")

(Nothing is impossible!)

(time and task oriented)

(identity in group)

Respect for Hierarchy
(Birth defines status.)


(You can't change fate.)


(relationship oriented)
LENS: A Cross-Cultural Example
Let's pretend you are a Greek-American girl who recently moved to India.

Your boyfriend invites you to a traditional, Hindu Indian wedding. During the ceremony, the bride looks sad, and afterward, you find out that the couple had only met a few times before the wedding.

You feel sorry for her and glad that you don't have to worry about an arranged marriage to someone you don't love.
Look Objectively.
You are a Greek-American girl.

You attend a traditional Hindu wedding.

The bride looks sad to you.

The couple only met a few times before their wedding.
The bride is unhappy.

The marriage was arranged.

The bride and groom do not love each other.
Note Other Possibilities.
Maybe the bride and groom do love each other.

Maybe the culture puts less importance on romantic love.

Maybe the bride wanted to marry the groom.

Maybe the bride is happy.
You ask a Hindu Indian friend about the wedding, and what you learn surprises you.

It is traditional for the bride to look sad during the ceremony. This represents her sadness at leaving her family and shows them respect.

The marriage was arranged, but the bride's family involved her in the decision.

She was happy and wanted to marry him.
Thanks so much for volunteering internationally!
We hope this has been a helpful lesson and that your experience abroad will be full of discovery and new cultural experiences.
Culture is hard to define.

Values, Tradition,
Music, Religion,
Food, Dress,
Economic Condition...

Culture makes up
about a way of life.
Your culture is like a pair of glasses you use to look at the world.

Different people use different glasses,
but one pair is not better than the others.
Bee Humble!
Today, we're going to use a technique called
to look at other cultures.
- Look Objectively
- Examine Your Assumptions
- Note Other Possibilities
- Substantiate with Locals
Now Let's Compare
Latin America
Let's take an imaginary trip to explore a few cultures with "glasses" completely different from ours.
For step #1:

Look Objectively

we first need to examine our own views.
In order to be objective, we have to

look without judging

In other words, we look at a different culture without calling it "good" or "bad."
Obviously, we have some differences.
Let's travel to India to put this into practice.
Now let's use
to look closer.
In other words... What are the facts?
Examine Your Assumptions.
What are you assuming is true?
Brainstorm to find your blind spots.
Substantiate with Locals.
Ask someone from the culture.
* An Important Disclaimer
Just as your opinions do not represent those of every American,
neither does one person
of another race, ethnicity, or culture represent an entire group.
For example:

What did
think about the wedding? The bride seemed kind of sad to me. I hope everything was okay.

Arranged marriages must really be terrible. Do
all Indians
feel that sad on their wedding day?
Do not ask one individual to speak for an entire group.
A Quick Recap
Hopefully, you now feel more comfortable using LENS with cultural differences.
- L
ook Objectively
- E
xamine Your Assumptions
- N
ote Other Possibilities
- Substantiate with Locals
Now let's look at another way to use LENS, this time in our own country.
Who is Homeless?
When we have money, it's easy to assume that homeless (or poor) people are so because of:

• laziness
• bad choices
• criminal activity
• we are better (more moral, etc.)
The Reality
Homelessness and Poverty Abroad
Just as the situation is complex here in the U.S.A., so is poverty abroad.

Try not to assume you know the full picture, and use LENS to work toward better cultural understanding.
Source: www.rethinkhomelessness.org
Video used with permission.
Common reasons for Homelessness:

Lack of affordable housing
Lack of affordable health care
Domestic Violence
Mental Illness (only 16% of the time)
Addiction (both a result and cause. Many people turn to substance abuse as a way to cope with homelessness.)
Video used with permission from: TED.com
Let's Review.
Can you name the four steps of LENS?
L - Look Objectively
E - Examine Your Assumptions
N - Note Other Possibilities
S - Substantiate with Locals
Also, remember to listen to our friendly Pug:
L - ?
E - ?
N - ?
S - ?
We'd also like to thank
the generous people at TED.com and RethinkHomelessness.org
for letting us use their videos.
Full transcript