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Local groups learn about ‘cultural humility’

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By Jessica Cohen. For the Gazette0:591:00

PORT JERVIS – How to have “mutually respectful relationships with members of diverse cultures” was the topic explored in a webinar titled “Cultural Humility” presented to 68 people from seven mid-Hudson Valley counties recently, according to Jennifer Ocasio.

She participated in the Zoom workshop as coordinator of the Mid-Hudson Prevention Resource Center of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Orange County, which sponsored the event. Members of Operation Port Jervis Pride were also encouraged to participate by OPJP program coordinator Megan Robbins, though she was not yet back from maternity leave, she said.

Leading the webinar was Earl Greene, a community development specialist from the Rochester area.

“He explained what cultural humility is and the difference between that and cultural competence,” Ocasio said.

Competence may involve a condescending “paternalism,” while humility entails mutual respect, according to the source of the “cultural humility” concept, a 1998 journal article, “Cultural Humility vs. Cultural Competence: A Critical Distinction in Defining Physician Training Outcomes in Multicultural Education,” by Melanie Tervalon and Jann Murray-Garcia.

Greene used exercises to demonstrate how people feel that others stereotypically perceive them in interactions that are short of “humility,” Ocasio said. For instance, he asked participants to name a stereotype associated with a group with which they identify that is “not consistent with who you are.”

Ocasio cited examples that emerged.

“I am angry and I’m a Hispanic woman, but I am not an angry Hispanic woman,” said one participant.

Another said, “I am a woman, but I do not want to be a mother.”

And a man said, “I am an African-American male, but I am not a drug dealer.”

“Everyone in the training found something they identified with, and that connected them with each other,” Ocasio said. “A key point was to use cultural humility to redress power imbalances. He talked about the ethical responsibilities individuals and organizations have to engage in mutually respectful relationships.”

Participants included community coalition members, prevention and treatment providers and staff, library staff, police department personnel and college and school district staff, among others, Ocasio said.

“Most have requested additional, more in-depth training,” she said. “We still have a wait list for this training, and additional sessions are being planned.”

“For me, I found the discussion of how cultural humility requires a lifelong commitment to learning, self-evaluation and recognizing power imbalances to be most important,” Ocasio said.

“Once we get a date for the next training, an email will be sent out to the coalition for those who are available to participate,” said Robbins of Operation Port Jervis Pride.

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