Developing your cultural competence is a whole-body experience. So often we talk about culture in terms of what we can see: Skin color. Gender. Style of dress. But culture is so much more than what you can see. Of course sight is important, but so are all of the other senses. Let's talk about how you can use all of your senses to develop cultural competence:
Sight: Many of the things we've talked about thus far in the series center around things you can see. Art, books, observations. You can learn so much from just getting off of your phone for just a minute and look around, you'll be amazed at just how diverse your surroundings are.
Smell: I love the idea of going on a neighborhood walk - new neighborhoods that you aren't usually in. Along with noticing the sights - notice the smells. What do you smell when you go to a new place? Which smells appeal to you? Which are aversive? Why do you think this is?
Sound: There are also sounds in each neighborhood - notice those as you walk as well. But there are also other sounds that pop up around diversity. The way different languages sound - not just the words that are used, but the music of the language. Different forms of poetry, storytelling, and books - these are all aspects of culture associated with different sounds.
Taste: Clearly this one is my favorite. I love to try new recipes that I've never had before. The great thing about this is you can never run out of ideas - there are so many cultures and each one prepares food differently. Check out the post on food for more tips on how to start.
Touch: You're probably thinking about things you can touch and yes, that is a sense that can be incorporated into diversity learning. But I like to think of feeling as more metaphoric (I am a psychologist after all). So how do all of these other sense experiences make you feel? Exhilarated? Uncomfortable? Scared? Excited? Be mindful of your own internal feelings and how they may manifest and be therefore, communicated to your kids.
Which sense will you try first? Which one appeals to you the most? Leave a comment below. Sign up for the newsletter so you'll get letter T delivered right to your email. You'll enjoy each blog post as well as tips, strategies, and general happenings at CCK. Enjoy & share with others!
Dr. Sweeney is a licensed school psychologist and cultural competence expert. Here are her musings on life in a multicultural world.
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