Diversity and Inclusion

Cultural Competency

In a culture, as in an iceberg, we can only see what is actually on the surface.

Above the water line

Noticeable are those things easily perceived by our senses. We are able to see clothing, smell and taste food, and listen to songs, language, and accents. We may also observe religious practices, and the way people react to events, to news, and even death.

At the water line

This area is sometimes visible but a little more difficult to identify. The same way the waves move along the line covering and exposing what is near it, peoples’ religious practices and languages carry a history intertwine with traditions, behavioral patterns, and ideas that are difficult to decipher unless some of that history is shared. Even what it seems clear and obvious such as food, clothes, and art may hide meaning beyond the comprehension of a non-culturally competent individual.

Below the water line

The size of the iceberg under water cannot be appreciated just by looking as what it is exposed. The same occurs for culture. Understanding social interactions, beliefs, values, and conceptions, for example, is not possible without studying the history and the many forces influencing and molding them.