People say the only constant is change. In my case, change is the constant thread through which I view the world. So you can imagine how excited I was to find change at the heart of our discussions about cultural and linguistic competence today.
Today’s lesson in change came from Tawara Goode, who is the director of the National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University.
The discussion centered on ways we can help further the cultural competence of higher education institutions and create more equitable institutions for students, staff, faculty and the broader community. With my love of all things change, I’m not sure why I hadn’t previously thought of change being at the heart of this work. Of course!
In order to embrace new ways of working and being, we need to first let go of old trappings before we can come to terms with this new and uncertain future. Wrapped up in this letting go period can be deep fear and insecurity. This is certainly true in the context of social justice work.
Ask why efforts around diversity and inclusion struggle so mightily? As Goode pointed out today – the struggle is embedded within our national challenge to engage in meaningful dialogue about difference. That struggle remains a growing edge for so many individuals and institutions alike. But at the heart of it all is the struggle for creating systemic change.
We know from business contexts that close to 80 percent of change efforts fail. My guess would be that efforts to assess and strengthen cultural competence face similarly bleak statistics.
Despite it all today I walked away feeling more hopeful and energized than ever. The work is difficult, yes But I feel heartened by finally seeing the change implications that are embedded within efforts to improve cultural competence on campus. This new perspective on issues of social justice work has me examining the ways I can continue to contribute to moving this shared work forward and the possibilities and tools that may be good support for the journey.
Today, as a result of this training, I am grateful for moving from feelings of overwhelm to empowerment.