Reflections from 2 Participants
I remember the day I was asked to do apply for the course, I was not given a lot of information, I also remember feeling confused and asking myself what is Cultural Diversity? I still went ahead and applied thinking “oh well” if it’s me learning something new it can’t be bad. In the interim I did some research on the internet regarding Cultural Diversity. The information I came across was limited however by this stage I wanted to learn more about the course. I really wanted to go on the journey! I waited for Barbel’s email on Monday and felt horrible when I had not received a response. Tuesday came and I was so happy when I received the email of acceptance, I knew this was going to be an exciting but scary journey. I was going to be in a class surrounded by people who have so much knowledge and experience in the Welfare field. In previous employment, I have not been exposed to such informative agencies nor interacted with other people from other organisations; therefore this limits my knowledge.
The day 1st day in class was nerve wrecking but exciting, I was more excited! I felt a lot at ease when I heard my colleague express their feelings about the course. I instantly discovered an awareness about my self I discovered I can be racist and very judgmental towards individuals and cultures. I walked away thinking, what I’m going to do about my awareness? This is not the way I want to be and this behaviour was impacting on my personal life as well as my role at work.
I have learnt how to be nonjudgmental and less racist; I believe racism is destructive and can destroy a community. This course has taught me so far that we all are different in so many ways and that’s ok. We should treat people with respect and fairly. I’m learning how to deal with certain situations which arise in my work place regarding my work colleagues and my clients. Previously if I was required to deal with a certain situation I would make a judgment and put it in the hard basket, I now look at it from a professional perspective and ask myself how can we assist this family or we need to look at it from the other persons point of view, why do we have to judge the situation? What strategies need to be put in place to assist with the situation? I am hoping to learn to different types of strategies to assist my organisation to grow by making it more culturally competent.
I find time to be a challenge in juggling my work and the course; I also can find the material to be a challenge to understand. I have set a time at work to overcome the time barrier no one is allowed to disturbed me I have allocated two hours every Tuesday. When reading material, I have learnt to write small brief summaries next to paragraphs so this will help me to memorize and understand what I’m reading.
I’m starting to feel more confident in the course and I feel comfortable in the group I have been allocated too. We interact constantly via email we are aware of each others abilities and challenges regarding this course, we all support each other and keep each other motivated.
I hope to achieve a great deal from this course; I want to learn to develop strategies on how to make the organisation more culturally competent also implement policies and procedures to support the change, interact with interagency, and learn of ways to make the organisation be more diverse friendly. I would like to do a different role in the future regarding cultural diversity.
When I put my hand up for the Diversity Leadership Management Program in 2007, it was with the expectation that I would emerge from the course nine months later as a “culturally competent” manager/leader. I’m still not sure whether I really knew what that would look like or how the course leader was going to get me there!
In reality the Diversity Leadership Management Program has proven to be a journey into the complex and often challenging terrains of Diversity and Leadership, coupled with the right mix of practical strategy to cover the Management strand. This is a program that gives space in our busy work lives to put the spotlight on our own values, and those of the organisations in which we work; to examine how those values are reflected in our practice; and to challenge the relevance and effectiveness of this practice in the context of a diverse community.
The Diversity Leadership Management Program encompasses a wide range of readings and research; activities which in turn are stimulating and often confronting; along with input from and access to leaders in the field of diversity. The program has certainly exceeded my expectations and I anticipate that all participants will bring a new focus to their organisations and to the sector as a result of their involvement.
Jo-Anne Hewitt; Regional Manager; The Spastic Centre