Abstract: Cultural competency, a multifaceted concept, is the ability to effectively interact with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. This competency is crucial in sectors like human resources, non-profit organizations, and government agencies where employees engage with people from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. This paper explores the concept of interactive cultural competency and the Interactive Cultural Competency ( iCCTM ) Method, developed by Motherland Cultural Connections LLC, from their wealth of practical experience with real people and teams. They specialize in curating culturally competent events for organizations and businesses, and have developed this effective method for over the last half decade of operation.
Introduction: Cultural competency is a complex construct that encompasses four key pillars: self-awareness, attitude towards cultural differences, knowledge of diverse cultural practices and world-views, and cross-cultural skills (Betancourt et al., 2003). The iCCTM aligns with these components and enhances them by offering a practical, interactive approach to cultural competency training. This framework is rooted in the belief that cultural competency is best acquired through direct interactions and relationships, rather than traditional classroom-based training or workshops (Campinha-Bacote, 2002).
Methodology: The ICCMTM unfolds in three phases: iCCTM Fundamentals Training, Cultural ‘Toolkit’ Development, and Community Immersion Phase. The success of the ICCM framework is gauged through various metrics such as enhancing cultural awareness development, fostering authentic relationships through shared experiences, improving knowledge competency of immigrant cultures represented in the city, and gathering community feedback (Cross et al., 1989).
Cultural competence is a multifaceted concept that involves the ability to effectively interact with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. This ability is particularly crucial in various sectors such as human resources, non-profit organizations, and government agencies where employees engage with people from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The four pillars of cultural competence include:
Self-awareness: This involves understanding one's own cultural identity and biases.
Attitude towards cultural differences: This involves being open, respectful, and curious about different cultures.
Knowledge of diverse cultural practices and world-views: This involves learning about different cultures and their values, practices, and world-views.
Cross-cultural skills: This involves developing skills that support effective cross-cultural communication and interaction.
The iCCTM framework, developed by Motherland Cultural Connections LLC, aligns with these components and further enhances them by offering a practical, interactive approach to cultural competency training. The framework is rooted in the belief that cultural competency is best acquired through direct interactions and relationships, rather than traditional classroom-based training or workshops.
Interactive cultural competency is loosely defined as immersing oneself in cultures that differ from one's own to gain awareness, knowledge, and skills needed to work with others who are culturally different in meaningful, relevant, and productive ways. This immersion is typically facilitated through the mediums of food, music, and storytelling, which serve as vehicles for cultural exploration and understanding (Sue & Sue, 2016).
The iCCTM framework unfolds in three phases:
iCCTM Fundamentals Training: This phase equips participants with the basic knowledge and skills necessary to understand and work effectively with people from different cultures.
Cultural ‘Toolkit’ Development: This phase facilitates a dialogue between participants and community leaders/influencers from diverse cultural backgrounds around specific themes of cultural competency.
Community Immersion Phase: This phase offers participants the opportunity to interact directly with members of a community from a different culture.
The success of the iCCTM framework is gauged through various metrics such as enhancing cultural awareness development, fostering authentic relationships through shared experiences, improving knowledge competency of immigrant cultures represented in the city, and gathering community feedback. These metrics provide a comprehensive and objective assessment of the success of the cultural competency training program
Benefits and Impact: The iCCTM offers a plethora of benefits that can significantly enhance the effectiveness of cultural competency training. By fostering an engaging and immersive learning environment, iCCTM allows participants to gain a deeper understanding of diverse cultures, thus promoting empathy, respect, and inclusivity (Kirmayer, 2012). The method actively prioritizes immersive participation, which can lead to improved retention of knowledge and skills. Furthermore, iCCTM can help reduce cultural & cognitive biases and stereotypes, fostering a more inclusive and respectful environment (Truong et al., 2014).
Conclusion: As for the broader societal impact of cultural competency training, various thought leaders have expressed their support. For instance, renowned sociologist Dr. Jane Elliott once said, "We don't need a melting pot in this country, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables — the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers — to maintain their identity. You appreciate the differences." This quote beautifully encapsulates the essence of cultural competency — appreciating and respecting the diversity that each individual brings to the table. Moreover, according to Dr. Maya Angelou, "In diversity, there is beauty and there is strength." This sentiment underscores the positive outcomes that can be achieved when society embraces cultural competency — a society that is not only more harmonious but also stronger and more vibrant.
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