By Ingrid Moreno
Located in Miami, a multicultural city, Barry University values and incorporates cultural competence in our “inclusive community,” highlighted in the university’s core commitments. According to American Psychological Association, cultural competence is "the ability to understand, appreciate and interact with people from cultures or belief systems different from one's own." This is a crucial concept that promotes better communication and union with people around us. Regardless of where students, faculty, and staff come from, what language they speak, and how they look, Barry thrives on respect, help, and supporting each other’s cultures.
Whether you are a Miami resident or have traveled here to study at Barry University, you will eventually encounter and interact with diverse cultures, causing cultural competence to become a crucial element of your daily life. The Buccaneer has compiled four simple tips to help the Barry community become culturally competent.
1. Learn about your culture
One of the first steps to take is to learn more about your roots, values, customs, and beliefs. You might be surprised to discover new insights into your culture. Your parents and grandparents can be a primary source since they may have first-hand experience in your culture.
2. Educate yourself about other cultures
Diverse cultures have different impacts on our experiences, knowledge, beliefs, and actions. Lack of understanding of other cultures can cause miscommunication with peers. Learning about other cultures does not have to be only about reading information about them. You could also try their signature foods, listen to their music, find out about their holidays, and even read or watch travel blogs. One of the best ways is to participate in diverse groups and exchange what you know about each other’s cultures.
Interacting with diverse groups is also a great way to learn about your other cultures and teach others about yours. Interacting with people outside of your usual group at school, work, and in other social encounters will help you to become more culturally competent with just a simple conversation with possible new friends.
3. Daily Principles
Carrying principles such as having an open mind to multiple perspectives, building cultural bridges, and engaging in social responsibility, are all part of being culturally competent. There is more than one way to interpret a certain idea or thought, which could also be due to different beliefs, traditions, and values.
It is important to be open to all these interpretations to understand and learn from each other. Building cultural bridges is about incorporating others into your world, to create union and reach better communication. As a member of society, you also have the duty of social responsibility by acting in the best interest of your community, standing up against discrimination, and advocating for social justice.
4. Raise Awareness
Being culturally competent is not only about absorbing the information but also encouraging others to do the same. It is important to promote cross-cultural communication, diversity, and knowledge.
Pass down the word. Tell your friends, family, classmates, and coworkers about how learning about other cultures has helped you grow and change. You could also use social media to reach bigger audiences and spread the importance of being culturally competent, especially in a multicultural city like Miami.
Barry University student Dominique Pineda, who is majoring in public relations and advertising told The Buccaneer why she thought cultural competence is important.
“Miami is a melting pot city in which you will encounter a variety of attitudes, cultures, and traditions all interacting with each other. Understanding your own culture and acknowledging others helps you engage and interact with others in a much respectful and knowledgeable manner.”
Private Practitioner Pamela A. Hays, Ph.D., of Soldotna, Alaska said, "Cultural competence is a lifelong project. You have to keep finding ways to expand your learning."