Analyze the cultural differences between the intern and the student’s family that led to a misunderstanding on the part of the intern.
For this discussion, view the scenario in The Impact of Diversity media piece. Analyze the cultural differences between the intern and the student’s family that led to a misunderstanding on the part of the intern. Search a professional source to find information about what skills are required for cultural competency in the field of social work, counseling, or psychology. Based on the information you found, for this discussion, describe what it means to be culturally competent. Be sure to cite the sources you consulted in your search for skills related to cultural competence.
No matter how culturally competent we may be, there is always more to know when working cross-culturally. Next, discuss how you can plan to intentionally increase your cultural awareness and competency as a developing professional.
You are a Caucasian intern, raised in a middle-class, primarily white suburb of Milwaukee. You are placed in the inner-city school, where you are exposed for the first time to minorities. You work with students who are having difficulties in school or have excessive absences. You are allowed to make home visits when contact by phone is not possible. One of your first such visits is to the Gonzales’ home, in a barrio on the outskirts of town, to find out more about Anna, an 8-year-old. As you approach the address, you begin to feel anxiety and trepidation. Graffiti and boarded up or dilapidated homes are everywhere. At Anna’s home, many children are playing outside in the dirt. Although they are carefree and apparently content, you question whether this environment is adequate. You also note how shabbily they are all dressed. As you approach the door, an older child, about 12, asks who you are. You tell him that you are here as a representative of the school and wish to speak to Mrs. Gonzales. At that moment a matronly, Hispanic woman approaches the door. Her hands are covered with flour, and the smell of tortillas is in the air. She seems hesitant to speak, but motions you in to sit down. She offers you a beverage, but you decline because you are worried about germs.
The home is sparsely decorated, but it does seem fairly clean. Nonetheless, you feel uncomfortable. When you ask about Anna, she takes you into one of the bedrooms in the small duplex. Anna is sleeping at one end of the bed. The older boy says that Anna has been ill these last few weeks and has been sleeping a great deal. The local health clinic diagnosed her as anemic. She was told to rest and to take iron pills that it provided. You notice that this room is cluttered and ask who else sleeps here. The boy states that Anna shares this room with her five younger siblings. You are struck by the fact that there is only one bed. You quickly conclude that this family is enmeshed and needs help with boundaries. You also wonder whether Anna has been undernourished due to improper cooking. You write your assessments on the referral form and leave abruptly.
The next day, your supervisor calls you in to discuss this assessment. She asks that you expand on your comment about, quote, an enmeshed family with no boundaries-unquote. You explain your observations. She gently chides you for lack of sensitivity to diversity issues and proceeds to explain that this family is not enmeshed, but just too poor to afford a larger home or more beds. She provides insight into cultural and socioeconomic issues you had not been aware of before. You are visibly upset. She comforts you, and says: That is why you are here-to learn!
How might you feel in this situation? How could this have been handled differently?
Image preview for analyze the cultural differences between the intern and the student’s family that led to a misunderstanding on the part of the intern.