Why is Cultural Humility Important?

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Cultural humility is a way to appreciate one's own culture while also being open to others. This lesson explains why cultural humility is so intrinsic in today's society.

What is Culture?

Did you know that the food you make for dinner and the music you play at school are all examples of your personal culture? Culture is a combination of beliefs, language, religion, social traits, food, and even artistic aspects like music and painting. With all of these factors in mind, it should explain why culture is everywhere and why it is something that affects everything in your day to day.

Culture can come from where you live and your nationality, but it can also come from how you were brought up. Someone may come from an old Catholic family but have been brought up Pagan, both of these are then part of the culture of that person. Our family and their personal traits are a large part of our culture as we grow. Due to the diversity of each nation, our culture is influenced by different backgrounds that surround us, making all of us unique.

Diversity is Everywhere

Whether you are in school or in the workforce, the world is an exceptionally diverse place. People come from different parts of the world, have different belief systems, and have been brought up in a variety of ways that may not be similar to you. These cultural differences are what makes cultural humility so important. When you work with someone in school, they may do things in a way you are not used to, which may make it challenging to work together. However, in this type of environment, you have to learn how to work successfully with others, which is where cultural humility comes in.

Cultural competency is another phrase used in culture and diversity. It means being an expert in a culture, educating oneself on other backgrounds and nationalities. Although important, this still does not give you a full picture of a person. However, cultural humility instead asks others to help in your education, instead of relying on yourself.

Cultural Humility

Cultural humility is the ability to be open to new ideas and other cultures, while still being true to your own. This is where you look at someone else and ask to be educated on their culture and to try not to assume you know everything or even anything until you learn it from them. For example, perhaps in your work group, there is one person who cannot do school work until after 6:00 because they are required to help their family on the farm until that time. This may be inconvenient for you, but if you are open to work around their schedule, this is cultural humility. The idea being that everyone deserves the same respect.

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