Reflections Global Cultural Awareness (EDUD 6303), Lamar University
Since the beginning of my doctoral studies at Lamar University, I have been consistently exposed to Global leadership issues, dynamics, communication challenges, and cross-cultural skills. It’s been a journey of learning, understanding, and developing new habits and skills for contributing as a global educational leader.
As an American working in Swaziland, I face the challenges of working in a different culture daily. Developing cultural proficiency, then, is an important skill for my current and future educational leadership. Lindsey, Robins, and Terrell (2009) describe it like this:
“Cultural proficiency is a model for shifting the culture of the school or district; it is a model for individual transformation and organizational change. Cultural proficiency is a mind-set, a worldview, a way a person or an organization makes assumptions for effectively describing, responding to, and planning for issues that arise in diverse environments. For some people, cultural proficiency is a paradigm shift from viewing cultural differences as problematic to learning to interact effectively with other cultures” (p. 4).
Five essential elements guide leaders in building cultural proficiency. The five videos below are testimony to my learning and reflections on developing cultural proficiency within myself and in my colleagues and students in Africa, especially along my journey as a student in global educational leadership and a course specifically on cultural proficiency.
You must know yourself, be observant of others, and be curious to work well cross-culturally. Without acknowledging your own cultural practices and how it affects others, it is impossible to develop cultural proficiency. In this video, I reflect particularly on my own challenges between low-context and high-context communication and reflect on my own cultural assessment.
To some, speaking of value is to speak of financial or monetary value. And though points to the monetary gains a business can make through cultural proficiency, the real value comes when we recognize how everyone brings skills, ideas, talents, and insights to help improve our organizations, schools, classrooms, and lives.
Managing the Dynamics of Diversity
The differences we share through cultural diversity are not problems to be solved, but opportunities to be embraced. Our goal as global educational leaders is not to teach conformity to our own cultural preferences. Instead, we learn how to address differences and conflicts in effective and healthy ways that leads to shared understanding, not superiority.
Adapting to Diversity
Change in practice and habits must take place to truly become culturally proficient. Many have suggestions on how to adapt and change, and this video includes my best advice for cultural adaptation: get feedback from a trusted member of the new culture, spend extended time in the culture, and try new things.
Institutionalizing Cultural Knowledge
All the work spent on building cultural proficiency can be lost with the change of leadership, a policy change, or other activities unless it is embedded into the culture of the school or organization. This means policy, professional development, and practice must become new habits. In this final video, I reflect on this process at the organization where I live and work and how we’re institutionalizing cultural knowledge through policy and advocacy, starting with the board all the way down to the students.
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Gannon, M. J., & Pillai, R. (2016). Understanding global cultures: Metaphorical journeys through 34 nations, clusters of nations, continents, & diversity (6th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.
Gundling, E., Hogan, T., & Cvitkovich, K. (2011). What is global leadership? 10 key behaviors that define great global leaders. Boston: Nicholas Brealey.
Kessel, A. (2015). Moving beyond Mozert: Toward a democratic theory of education. Educational Psychology and Theory, 47(13-14), 1419-1434. doi:10.1080/00131857.2014.947561
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Lindsey, R. B., Robins, K. N., & Terrell, R. D. (2009). Cultural proficiency: A manual for school leaders (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Meyer, E. (2014). The culture map: Breaking through the invisible boundaries of global business. New York: Public Affairs.
Prieto, M. (2015). The other from an educational perspective: Beyond fear, dependence. Studies in Philosophy & Education, 34, 297-309. doi:10.1007/s11217-014-9442-3
Seo. S. [TEDxTalks]. (2015, Nov 19). How to make a global working life successful, Sunga Seo, TEDxStuttgart [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK8FqqzwPWk
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