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What do I know about culture & diversity?

Culture & Cultural competence

Culture is a word we always hear, but difficult to explain what it exactly is. It’s something in our heritage and DNA that influences our everyday decisions such as what to eat, what to wear and what to say.  Culture is something everyone has. It is a system of knowledge shared by a group. It is communicated between generations of that group and constantly changing. When people who share the same cultures and values come together, they form cultural groups. Cultural groups can be defined in several ways, such as ethnic, religious, linguistic, political, national etc.

In a nutshell, our cultural lens is our view of normal. Our perspectives are heavily influenced by what we see through the cultural lens. Sometimes, it can be misleading. For example, we may mistakenly believe that all people who look like us are similar in all other ways and that all people who do not look like us are different in all other ways. The cultural lens is shaped by our learning journey since we were born. It’s the environment we grew up in, and things we see and hear, and the people we meet. It’s normal we tend to be raised in groups of people who are just like us, gravitate to people who are like us, and feel uncomfortable with people who are different from us.



The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect.

It means understanding that everyone is unique and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race. Ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, beliefs, or other ideologies.

It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. Relating to your own experience, try to briefly describe how you fit within each dimension, for example, your ethnicity.

Biculturalism and Multiculturalism

Biculturalism represents comfort and proficiency with both one’s heritage culture and the culture of the country or region in which on has settled. It’s not only applicable to  immigrants, but also their children who are born and raised in the receiving society, they are likely deeply embedded in the heritage culture at home with their families. The ethnic component of biculturalism is not only a reactive response to discrimination, it also represents a sense of pride in one’s heritage and a desire to hold on to that heritage. 

Individuals who speak both the language of their heritage cultural context (or home country) and then language of their receiving cultural context (residential country), have friends from both cultural backgrounds, and watch TV programs and read magazines from both cultural contexts are considered bicultural. 

Multiculturalism means there’s public endorsement and recognition of cultural diversity. 


Practice and self-reflect (Free enrolment 👇)

Keys 2 Diversity is a free, self-managed online course, designed to develop cultural & diversity awareness for everyone. 

You may want to read more:

3 Strong motivators in cross-cultural workplace


Biculturalism and Context: what is biculturalism, and when is it adaptive? Schwartz, S.J., Unger, J.B. 2010 Mar.

Diverse WA competency training.