Learning more about other cultures and being aware of current events is often key in learning about various cultural groups’ points of view. When working with people from different cultural backgrounds, it can be useful to learn about their culture’s practices, values, and beliefs. For example, learning about the languages spoken in their communities, child-rearing practices, or religious traditions can help us understand and interact with individuals and groups of various backgrounds.
Conflicts that emerge between groups are often rooted in issues that may have deep historical origins. It is very helpful to understand these historical backgrounds that may help explain current events. For example, why do certain words or phrases that seem neutral evoke negative reactions with specific populations (e.g., “Where are you from?” or “You really should be appreciative of what I give you”)? Some of these phrases reflect long histories and current experiences of oppression and thus evoke hurt and other negative feelings. Hurt feelings among youth may impact their ability to develop trusting and strong relationships with adults, which are necessary for youths’ growth and development. Similarly, some traditional events may evoke controversy as to their meaning and whether they should celebrated at all (e.g., Columbus Day). Regardless of what side of the debate you might align with, the first and most important step is to understand the issue.
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