This will be another series of posts, this time, focused on the Cultural Competency Pursuit (CCP) professional development program at UNF. Each post will be a reflection associated with a different session of CCP. In total, there are seven posts that will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks.
CCP begins with an introductory 101 course. I experienced this as one of the initial participants, so there has been some change over the years. One of the more impactful parts of this session was the privilege walk. Considering the session was held with all staff members, it was interesting to see when people were taking steps forward or backward. It highlighted how we make certain assumptions about people simply based on our perception of them. We can easily construct a narrative based on small, professional interactions. Until we take the time to have a conversation, we only know what is on the surface. Similar to an iceberg, we see 10% of the person and tend to assume the rest without taking the time to really get to understand and know them.
It is in this space, creating the time and opportunity to interact with someone beyond the surface, that we generate authentic relationships. These authentic relationships lead to us, as professionals, being better at our work. We are now role modeling the behaviors we expect from our students. It takes trust and a willingness to be vulnerable. Aren’t these qualities we want our students to develop? We are demonstrating the ways they can engage with difference. We are more likely to produce truly collaborative work with others. All of these reasons have an impact on our students, either directly or indirectly. They also make the work environment more friendly and welcoming. It helps to retain staff members.
The importance of training staff on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion is immeasurable. CCP is allowing the staff at UNF to establish a common language around these topics and do the work we need to do in order to better serve our students and ultimately the institution. The various training sessions will make us more aware and knowledgeable on the different identities that are associated with the curricula. We all have work to do and it is our professional and personal responsibility to put in the time and effort.