Hola. My name is Susana Morales and I am the Director of Community Health at the Texas Health Institute.
A few months ago, I facilitated a focus group in what is known as the most diverse part of Houston. We partnered with an anchor community organization because we know from experience that doing so leads to successful recruitment and planning of focus groups in communities where we are an unrecognizable entity. The mission of the Alliance is to create opportunities for refugees, immigrants, and underserved residents to achieve their goals for self-sufficiency and improve their quality of life. As such their community reach is very diverse. The focus group was facilitated in five languages: English and Spanish for the most part (as I am bilingual) and we had interpreters and translators for three more languages including Dari, Urdu, and Arabic. My role as a culturally relevant evaluator was to ensure all voices were heard and all experiences validated based on the beautiful differences of cultures, perspectives, and languages.
What does it mean to be culturally relevant evaluators when there is such diversity in the room and how can we excel?
- Being self-aware of your own culture and what you bring to the conversation.
- Honoring the context by incorporating lived experience of community members.
- Remaining sensitive and responsive to the culture of the participants and their cultural environment.
- Recognizing the sociopolitical context.
To wrap it up, the focus group was very successful and insightful. We managed to finish on time, asked all of our questions, and I personally learned to trust the process and speak slowly. There is no rush when you are sharing a conversation with community members. As for the translation of the transcript, well that’s a whole different blog.
- A guide to conducting culturally responsive evaluations
- Guiding questions for supporting culturally responsive evaluation practices and equity-based perspective
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