Monday, May 12, 2014

Components of Cross-Cultural Competencies in Action: Part 2

In this second of a two-part series, Holly Niemi shares how her school celebrates cultural diversity.

An earlier blog entry entitled Part 1:  An Introduction of Cross-CulturalCompetencies provided readers an introduction of the four cross-cultural competencies, including awareness, knowledge, skills, action and advocacy.  Now, Part 2 takes the concepts a step further and puts them into practice.  Here are a variety of different initiatives and programs to increase cross-cultural competencies.  While reading, be cognizant of which level of cross-cultural competencies each practice represents.

Cultural pride on display
First, our school showcased ELLs’ cultural pride in a prominent area of the school. Our display case highlighted ethnic clothing, jewelry, and food, as well as photographs of cultural celebrations and traditions of our ELLs' native countries.  Additionally, a picture of the showcase and an article explaining of its contents were posted on the school blog. (This is an example of Knowledge).
Student collaboration

Second, we created, developed, and implemented an ESL and foreign language collaboration during National Foreign Language Week that aimed to celebrate and strengthen cultural diversity in our school. ELLs shared their unique perspectives and vast world knowledge as they taught small groups of foreign language students cultural dances to music from their native countries, then spoke on a panel about their culture, beliefs, heritage, perspectives, and experiences. (This is an example of Skills).
Student collaboration

Furthermore, the foreign language students participated in classroom activities in order to build prior knowledge before our cultural dance lesson and panel discussion.  The pre-activities included an empathy building simulation, as well as a Venn diagram exercise comparing and contrasting immigrants and refugees.  (This is an example of Awareness and Knowledge).  Additionally, after the program, some foreign language students volunteered as student tutors in the ESL classroom, where as others took a more active role of reaching out to ELLs in their content area classes and around the school.  (This is an example of Action & Advocacy).

Third, we planned a collaborative field trip between our ELLs and gifted learners. ESL plans an annual field trip that is always to a new destination, this year’s trip was to a local history museum. In order to maximize ELLs' time at the museum, ELLs were assigned to groups with a gifted learner serving as the group leader and museum tour guide. This helped ensure that ELLs found their way around the new environment in the allotted amount of time and completed their scavenger hunt. Most of the gifted learners had been to the museum before and those that had not were fluent in English so that they were able to read the exhibit descriptions to ELLs in simplified English.  (This is an example of Skills and Action & Advocacy).

World Affairs Council
Next, the World Affairs Council, a local non-profit organization in our area, presented to our ELLs and 10th grade World Cultures classes on the topic of   “Understanding Contemporary World Religions.”   The ESL department organized this event in order to promote a deeper understanding of key contemporary international issues.  This collaboration connected our ELLs and over 200 students in the World Cultures classes in panel discussions. (This is an example of Awareness, Knowledge, and Skills).

Understanding World Religions
Last, to extend the “Understanding Contemporary World Religions” program, the World Cultures classes visited the ESL classrooms to explore world religions from the perspective of our ELLs. ELLs shared about their religious beliefs and customs.  World Cultures students traveled from station-to-station to complete their religious “passports” on Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Multi-denominations.  ELLs prepared brief presentations and stations for the World Cultures classes. The project allowed ELLs to interact with native speakers in a leadership role while increasing their English language proficiency, as well as allowed the World Cultures students the opportunity to gain a first-person perspective of contemporary world religions. (This is an example of Knowledge and Skills).

Overall, these initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and inclusive practices that will expand our students’ experiences and encourage cross-cultural awareness and highlighted cross-cultural competencies.
All photos provided by Holly Niemi.

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