Tag Archives: communication

A bird flying in the sky.

6 Things I’ve Learned about Cross-Cultural Staff Development

Tomorrow I’m going to a small town on the Indian border to lead a three day training. I’ll be teaching from the Ministry of Health’s handbook on counseling skills to use with patients with substance use disorders. Staff development has been the most interesting and rewarding part of my assignment here. The Bhutanese educational system is new. Prior to the 1950’s education only occurred in the monasteries. The teaching style… Read Article →

12 tips for working with lay interpreters

12 Tips for Working with an Untrained Interpreter

High quality professional interpretation is a wonderful thing that every patient deserves. I would always choose to have a professional. Interpreters undergo training and testing. They have a code of ethics and professional standards. It takes true skill to center yourself in the conversation but not participate. When working internationally in underdeveloped systems, professional interpretation is a rarity and a luxury. Like now. We don’t have any professionally trained or certified… Read Article →

A mountain stream flows through the jungle in Bhutan.

Culture & Talking to Patients & Families about Cancer

“He was yelling at me! He said I could not tell her she had cancer! No one here ever tells them!” We were standing just outside the gate of the National Referral Hospital in Thimphu, Bhutan. I looked up at the oncologist, squinting into the afternoon sun. That afternoon he had been working with patients, as usual. He was just about to tell his patient that she had cancer and that it was a terminal… Read Article →

Conversations to Promote Peace In Times of Fear 4/4: Supporting Each Other

When having conversations to promote peace, we also need to support one another. As I wrote before, being a social worker means incorporating the personal and professional. Usually, this feels good. Having a sense of integrity and purpose that flows throughout the day is deeply satisfying. The desire for this type of living is what often motivates people to work in this profession in the first place. Sometimes, though, it’s… Read Article →

Conversations to Promote Peace in Times of Fear 3/4: Bystanders and Encouragement

Bystanders are people who have a basically tolerant worldview and a peaceful agenda but don’t speak up much. They may be afraid of the social repercussions of speaking up, especially if they are part of a cultural group that values avoiding conflict. They may not have the language to do so and feel afraid of stating their argument incorrectly or offensively. They may just have different priorities, for example environmental… Read Article →

Conversations to Promote Peace in Times of Fear 2/4: Fear, Protectionism, and Compassion

Many people reacted to the bombing in Paris with fear. They identify with the French, and they think—this could happen where I live. Fear triggers a protectionist stance. We’re under attack and we’ve got to circle the wagons. Fear is dangerous. It overtakes compassion, logic, and values- and facts-based decision making. The person who is feared suffers. The person who fears suffers as well. It’s been difficult for me to… Read Article →

Conversations to Promote Peace in Times of Fear 1/4: Intolerance, Hate Speech, and Boundaries

I had many initial reactions to the bombings in Paris. One of them was this: I’m about to hear some very hateful speech. There is a group of people whose views are extreme, rigid, and very intolerant. They are a minority, but in a fear-based climate, their voice becomes a roar. Here are some things I’ve noticed about their thinking: Views are rigid and do not change with new information…. Read Article →

Bhutanese students in school uniform are smiling as they look at an electronic device.

Social Media in Bhutan

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Second Bhutanese Bloggers Conference. The first conference was in August 2015. Everybody had such as good time they decided to have another. For me, the conference was a chance to widen my exposure to Bhutanese culture (and to get excited about my new blog). I also learned about how Bhutanese young people are wielding the powerful tool of social media as… Read Article →