Hi, we’re Osman Özturgut, assistant professor, University of the Incarnate Word and Cindy Crusto, associate professor, Yale University School of Medicine. We are members of the AEA Public Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation Dissemination Working Group. We are writing to inform you of our forthcoming professional development workshop at Evaluation 2014 in Denver. Since the last meeting in Washington, we have been “learning, unlearning, and relearning” with several groups and workshop participants with respect to cultural competence. We wanted to share some of our learning experiences.
Our workshop is entitled, “Acknowledging the ‘Self’ in Developing Cultural Competency.” We developed the workshop to highlight key concepts written about in the AEA Public Statement that focus on evaluator hirself and what the evaluator hirself can do to better engage in work across cultures. As the AEA’S Public Statement explains, “Cultural competence requires awareness of self, reflection on one’s own cultural position.” Cultural competence begins with awareness and an understanding of one’s own viewpoints (learning). Once we become aware of, reflect on, and critically analyze our existing knowledge and viewpoints, we may need to reevaluate some of our assumptions (unlearning). It is only then we can reformulate our knowledge to accommodate and adapt to new situations (relearning). This process of learning, unlearning, and relearning is the foundation of becoming a more culturally competent evaluator.
We learned that evaluators really want a safe place to talk about culture, human diversity, and issues of equity. In our session, we provide this safe place and allow for learning. Participants can explore their “half-baked ideas”, as one of our previous workshop participants had mentioned. This is the idea that we don’t always have the right words or have fully formulated thoughts and ideas regarding issues of culture, diversity, and inclusion. We believe it is crucial to provide a safe place to share ideas, even if they are “half-baked”.
Lessons Learned: We learned that the use of humor is critically important when discussing sensitive topics and communicating across cultures. It reduces anxiety and tension.
Providing a safe place for discussion is crucial, especially with audiences with diverse cultural backgrounds and viewpoints. Be open to unlearning and relearning – Remember, culture is fluid and there is always room for improvement. Get out of your comfort zone to realize the “self”.
Also, see Dunaway, Morrow & Porter’s (2012) Development and validation of the cultural competence of program evaluators (CCPE) self-report scale.
Want to learn more? Register for Acknowledging the “Self” in Developing Cultural Competency at Evaluation 2014.
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