Multicultural competence is not a box you can check- it is a journey that lasts throughout our lives to discover ways to engage with difference. Your gender, sexual orientation, background, heritage, or exposure to other cultures does not automatically make you competent.
So how do you become competent?
- Learn about yourself- Explore your own history, beliefs and value systems. This can help you see how you move in the world.
- Learn about different cultures- A great way to do this is to learn another language, travel, and connect with people that are different from you. There are huge amounts of resources that can help you learn more about people from different backgrounds.
- Interact with diverse groups- UVM has groups/organizations, events and presentations that will welcome you. In addition you can always volunteer or do an internship where you can work with people from different backgrounds.
- Attend diversity sessions offered at work or on campus
What are the challenges involved in striving toward multicultural competence?
Admitting your own prejudices can be difficult. When you have grown up surrounded by racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., you cannot escape it. Try to understand the roots of your biases. It is what we do with that knowledge and those feelings that are the keys to being a very effective in a global diverse community. Being multiculturally competent is a process not a destination.