Getting to know what different cultures are about is a great way to develop an understanding of cultural identity and diversity. This allows one to establish constructive interactions with others whilst celebrating the similarities and differences. Therefore, actively seeking to appreciate and embrace multiculturalism can open one to a whole world of novel experiences.
Take time to think about the similarities and differences of cultures that you have interacted with at work, but also in your personal life.
Group comparisons are crucial to research as they illustrate different trajectories between cultures. Culture molds the development of humans through exposure to family interaction, societal participation and varying environmental stimuli. Cultural similarities and differences are more so contrasts between groups on a given area rather than differences regarding cultural outcomes (Causadias et al, 2018). I interact with many African Americans and Caucasians at work and as such I have observed some differences and similarities. Some differences include both participate in exceptional cultural practices and environs that determine incidence, scope and development of behaviors. For instance, Caucasians embody a culture of honor while African Americans exhibit cultural pride particularly when dealing with discrimination and hardship. Besides, more African American youths develop in niches characterized by segregation and stratification as compared to the Caucasians. Alternatively, they exhibit resemblances in that both display cultural similarities in techniques used to regulate emotions.
What sense have you made of these cultural dynamics that you have observed throughout your life?
Culture develops from the irresistible propensity for people to establish conventions and stereotypes so as to create personal libraries of experiences that act as reference material in determining people’s actions. I acknowledge that culture is rather dynamic and hence it changes in perceptible and subtle ways (Kashima, 2014). Therefore, I now understand culture emerges and is maintained by the active role of people both intentionally and unintentionally in semiotic content and social intellect. This means people personify cultural representations and utilize them wherever they go by employing them during social interpretations. Therefore, the shared themes allow people to apply cultural logic in efforts to establish and uphold commonality (Kashima, 2014). Furthermore, I understand the mediating aspects which are tools for instilling cultural practices include observable typical behavior. For instance, descriptions such as ‘I like to do it like this’ and prohibitions in socialization of kids such as ‘it is bad or good to do this’ do not essentially apply across all cultures but can be prone to one particular group. Therefore, people may display contrary cultural practices that may apply to mutually exclusive settings.
How does understanding differences and encountering unfamiliar cultures translate to your passion for working within the field of Human Services?
As aforesaid, understanding different cultures brings about productive interactions and hence determines the kind of relationship that one has with people from different cultural backgrounds. Understanding unfamiliar cultures has acted as a pursuit for knowledge for me which is important in the human services field. Being informed about people’s predispositions is vital in this field as having an increased knowledge base aids in overcoming stereotypes. Making an effort to actually learn about people instead of making judgments founded on one opinion is key. Nonetheless, I can tailor the services to meet the needs of different people. This can be done by paying attention to contextual discrepancies such as religion, class and geographic area of residence. When differences are taken out of context there is a risk of misinterpretation (Calzada and Suarez-Balcazar, 2014). Therefore, being conscious of the personnel practices I employ will aid in averting problematic responses to group differences.
Think about the cultural group(s) you identify with.
Why is it important for all Human Services Professionals to promote the acceptance of all cultures and the inclusion of all cultures?
I am Puerto Rican and hence identify more with people with a similar background. Yet as a human service professional I acknowledge how important it is to uphold objectivity and professionalism. This means understanding that as much as one’s values are important; the goal is to adhere to culturally sensitive outreach and interactive practices (Calzada and Suarez-Balcazar, 2014). It is important to foster acceptance and inclusion because it creates a jointed frame of reference that establishes a solid basis for culturally diverse action plans. There can be no one standard to fit all cultures therefore by including everyone, people develop a sense of reliance on each other fostering successful interactions and creating commitment to the social process in a community. Nevertheless, it offers an equal platform to fully participate in society. When there is acceptance and inclusion, people feel a sense of belonging and the need to participate. To ensure this, there is a need to tap into unique social experiences to facilitate comprehensive and precise portrayal of diverse families which may act as a vital source of information on cultural matters for the human service professional.
What steps can this agency take towards ensuring the promotion of acceptance and the inclusion of all cultures so that the work done [as Human Services Professionals] is effective and efficient?
Human service professionals’ purpose to offer settings and opportunities that embrace learning about diversity. Therefore, to attain success in efforts to foster acceptance and inclusion, there is a need to draw on the most viable strategies. Some techniques to implement include establishing social inclusion objectives. While there can be international level frameworks, developing more local goals aids in integrating each culture’s particular needs and context. Some shared objectives such as respect for diversity and social justice and cohesion gives a sense of belonging in a society that accepts all people. Additionally, amending and eliminating discriminatory practices is imperative. An inclusive society means all people are acknowledged regardless of their physical and social attributes. Eradicating discriminatory practices is the first step to laying the basis for an inclusive community.
Calzada, E., & Suarez-Balcazar, Y. (2014). Enhancing Cultural Competence in Social Service Agencies: A Promising Approach to Serving Diverse Children and Families. Research Brief. OPRE Report, (31), 1-8.
Causadias, J, M., Korous, K, M., & Cahill, K, M. (2018). Are Whites and minorities more similar than different? Testing the cultural similarities hypothesis on psychopathology with a second-order meta-analysis. Development and Psychopathology, 30 (5), 2009-2027.
Kashima, Y. (2014). How can you capture cultural dynamics? Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 995.