Green Light to Mobility and Cultural Humility
By: Cameron Lee, MSW ASW/LSW, Program Development Manager, Travel Training
Since the Social Work field was founded in the late 1800’s, social service professionals have been working hard to educate themselves on culture and diversity. Over the last 100 or so years there have been countless research studies, training protocols and text books written on cultural competency. Out of these many resources comes some pretty fantastic materials, yet it is presented in a manner that often forgets to include the family, or family of choice, culture, or the immediate community culture. For example, when reading or going to a training, do trainers teach culture and diversity through the perspective of those who are in the room or are they referencing overgeneralizations (stereotypes) of people and their culture, outside the training room?
New Horizons’ Green Light to Mobility (GLM) Program takes a new focus on diversity training, called Cultural Humility. Cultural Humility, as described by Dr. Jann Murray-Garcia and Dr. Melanie Tervalon, is the lifelong process of self-reflection, awareness and critique; simply put, it is the “careful consideration of a person’s assumptions and beliefs, which are embedded in their understanding and interactions with [another person]” (California Health Advocates, 2007). By self-reflecting, being aware and practicing self-critique, in conjunction with culture and diversity training, GLM allows for a greater experience with those we work with, allowing for a greater understanding of:
- Cultural values, attitudes, and behaviors, especially as they relate to age, health, illness, medicine, death, dying and physical capacity;
- Social, political and economic context in which life decision are made;
- Shared values, issues, and goals.
How specifically does Cultural Humility apply to New Horizons’ Green Light to Mobility (GLM) Program? Culturally Humility applies to the GLM program in 3 ways. First, the GLM program encourages travel trainers to work on self-reflection, awareness and critique at all phases of the travel training process. Second, the GLM team works to move theory into practice, by utilizing active listening and requesting consistent feedback. And, finally, the GLM program celebrates an individual’s experience, by including them in all that we do, from decision making to program planning and implementation.
It is the GLM’s goal to always remember, as we move off New Horizons’ campus and into the community that we are agents of change and as such, we need to respect the wonderful diversity of the individuals around us, not just those we serve.