What is cultural competence and how does one develop and practice that quality?
Apply the lessons to your personal experience.
Author: JiXiang Ding
What is cultural competence
Cultural competence is supposed to be something that one can rely on to successfully navigating culturally diverse situations and working with people of other cultures.
Five steps of cultural competence
Actually, after completing this course, I learnt that it is a perpetual process, which involves five steps:
- Open attitude
- Cultural knowledge
- Cultural skills
How to develop the quality
Keep an open attitude
Practicing and keeping an open attitude in cultual communication is a critical step for successful intercultural interactions.
Without an open attitude, generalizations will often fall to stereotypes.
Normally the first step in working across cultures is to build our own self-awareness and have a fully understanding of our own cultural influences.
Like water to a fish, we highly depend on cultural environments.
Different understanding levels for Cultural components
- Levels of culture
- 3 Ps of culture (practices, products and perspectives)
- Preferences and values
Other-awareness is also critical
After completing the DCC course, I found that my self-awareness of cultural preferences helps build the awareness of others.
My personal experience and practice
For example, I come from Huaqiao University, a school with great cultural diversity due to its notion for cultivating overseas Chinese and spreading the traditional Chinese cultures.
So I have lots of opportunities to contact with people from other countries and with different cultural habits. After fulfilling the course, I learned how to accept cultural differences and express myself more openmindedly and fearlessly. Like greeting actively in the morning using their local language and gesture. At the beginning, it is kind of strange. However, as we know each other, it gets more natural and normal.
Developing cultural knowledge
Developing cultural knowledge is the process of learning the general cultural practices and products of a particular group. It involves awareness of historical context and understanding of societal constructs.
Different countries have different cultural knowledge, and from my perspective, we should respect and appreciate every cultural knowledge and follow their rules when visiting other countries or speaking with people in different cultural backgrounds.
My true experience based last winter vacation
Last winter vacation, I visited Japan. In Hokkaido, I met an American guy when having meal in a small but warm convenience store (it is cold in Hokkaido’s winter). We talked a lot, sharing our own stories and different cultural values. He said that he loves travelling and appreciate every culture.
That time I could not comprehend what he meant. While completing the DCC, I realized that it is his respect for other-awareness and different cultural knowledge.
Cultural skills we need to have
Do your homework about another cultures
Here I listed several ways I used to expose myself to other cultures:
- Follow social media pages
- Look up YouTube videos
- Read online news sources
- Check out travel books (as I mentioned above, I love travelling!)
- Visit local museums and cultural centers (to learn their history)
- Enroll in a college class (that’s why I attended DCC)
In the Developing Cultural Competence course jointly held by our university and North Carolina State University in April this year, I felt that there are many differences between Chinese and Western cultures.
Only by perpetually maintaining a sense of cultural mission and strengthening cultural confidence can I avoid losing my way in cultural conflicts.
Secondly, I am also aware of the significance of appreciating other cultures, considering other-awareness.
Anyway, in the future, I will continue to work hard to broaden my knowledge and further my study in the field of cultural development and coping with cultural diversity.