REFLECTIVE PRACTICE JOURNAL
PERSONAL STRATEGIC PLAN
Cultural awareness and the use of cultural awareness as a tool with which to enrich and enhance personal and professional lives are important to me anywhere, but most particularly in Canada. The globalization of the world has ensured that cultures are in constant contact and communication with one another, and their people as well. In the textbook, Thomas and Inkson (2017) stated that culture is not random, it is an organized system of values, attitudes, beliefs, and meanings that are related to each other and the context (p.31). The requirement of cultural awareness, however, has not necessarily restrained communications and management practices in an attempt to be more aware and sensitive to cultural issues, however, in my opinion, has the potential to open those communications and management practices up. The intention of this essay is to analysis at two personal goals of mine that will contribute to the enhancement of my cultural awareness, with a rationale for choosing each path.
The importance of awareness in cultural competence and management/communications cannot be overstated, and it is not. Yamada (2015) offers that “Culturally competent practice requires an examination of one’s own attitude and values, and the acquisition of the values, knowledge, skills, and attributes that allow an individual to work appropriately in cross cultural situations” (n. pag.). It is also certain that exposure helps increase acceptance (Tan et al, 2015). Therefore, it is important to preface my two personal goals to build cultural awareness with the criteria with which I chose them. The criteria for these two goals include: (1) they force me to be uncomfortable in some way regarding culture, (2) it is measurable and obtainable, and (3) it furthers my other personal goals in some way aside from cultural awareness. This helps to narrow down the possibilities of the goals as well as to justify them to myself as important and necessary for me to work toward. There are two major ways in which one can immerse and be exposed to cross-cultural experience, in my opinion – food, and volunteering.
The first of two personal goals that will help contribute to the enhancement of my cultural awareness is food. Food is a universal cultural concept in that all people need food, therefore the process of going to a place to experience food is pretty similar regardless of culture. My goal for this activity is to eat at a restaurant from a different culture than my own twice a month for four months. I feel like this will give me some exposure to the other cultures represented in Canada while allowing me to further my personal goals of meeting new people, but it will also be both uncomfortable and awkward, which will help encourage my awareness of why that is. It allows me to be the one out of my element and out of my language, in many cases, but it also helps me to practice the art of meeting new people with universal rules, like being friendly and polite, maintaining eye contact, and working through being uncomfortable.
Another of the goals I want to achieve to help me build cultural awareness is to volunteer. Specifically, it is to volunteer for community service organizations that specifically seek out visible minorities and other groups to help with transitioning to Canada through the immigration process. This is a specific volunteer decision that I think will help in many ways. First, it contributes to my personal goal of giving back to the community, and plays to my personal values of immigration, humanism and helping one another along on this journey. Second, it makes me uncomfortable. I will have to acknowledge and accept my own privilege and face struggles I know rarely about, which will humble me and make me uncomfortable overall. And lastly, it will immerse me in cultural conflicts, struggles and concerns that few people ever directly face, which I think will help enhance my ability to see through skin color or ethnicity or nationality in everyday interactions in order to see the kinds of struggles and concerns that come with it.
This essay has tried to point out how personal goals can align with professional and combine with other personal goals, and how cultural awareness can be enhanced in conjunction with both of those things. It has shown that exposure to cultural differences and diversity can enhance awareness, and how I plan to incorporate this awareness into my personal goals throughout the next several months.