Workshops build cultural competence for Indiana residents

As the United States becomes moreethnically diverse, it is important that residents, especially young people, understand various cultures. In Indiana, Purdue Universitypresented Navigating Difference to people throughout the state who wanted to deepen their knowledge, skills and appreciation for connecting with clientele, colleagues and community members of all cultures. Originally created by WashingtonState University, the five modules in Navigating Difference explore cultural awareness, social justice, intercultural communication and organizational development. When Indianapolis Public Library System’s director of human resources attended, she knew it would help thesystemimprove outreach and service to underserved and vulnerable populations, homeless patrons, new immigrants and refugees, low-income families and individualsand people with disabilities, including mental illnesses. Over three years, all 600+ library system staff completed the program. All 108 managers and supervisors completed three-day intensive training, and 500 staff built cultural awareness skills in a half-day workshop. Community leadership programs in seven counties, Retired Senior Volunteer Program participants and community school staff also completed the training. Post-workshop survey results show that 75% of the library system’smanagerswhocompleted the training felt confident to take steps to effectively navigate cultural competence. Overall, 78% of those who participated in one of the 336 cultural competence workshops improved their recognition of how power, privilege, and oppression may affect their work with people from cultures other than theirs; 76% were more motivated to build their cultural competence and 69% improved their understanding of the barriers to intercultural communication.

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