Tag Archives: cultural competency

Resource: The Peace Corps’ Culture Matters Workbook

I was introduced to this wonderful workbook in one of my University of British Columbia’s Certificate in International Development classes. No matter what you think of the Peace Corps, it’s a great resource. The workbook breaks down culturally driven values and behaviors in American and other cultures. It’s incredibly thorough and yet easy to understand. I most appreciated the self-assessment quizzes and the lists of behaviors that reveal a culturally-determined value. Want to know… Read Article →

Why Darwin Is a Terrible Anthropologist

When westerners encounter cultural differences, the tendency is to view the other relative to the western norm and to apply a linear/ Darwinian logic. People think of development as linear and always progressing. The western/ developed world is at one end, and everybody else is lagging someplace behind. As a part of this, we often assume that the problems in our culture or society are not only present in other… Read Article →

Who’s in Charge Here? Rethinking Locus of Control

Last week in class I read about locus of control (either internal or external) being a cultural construct. For those who are already confused: locus of control refers to beliefs regarding who has the power to shape a person’s destiny. If you believe that you have the power, then you have an internal local of control. If you believe that your destiny is determined by outside forces, then you have an… Read Article →

Book Review: Class by Paul Fussel (funny & informative!)

A few days ago I wrote a blog post unpacking my own cultural identities. Culture is funny. It’s pretty hard to describe your own without a little push. We tend to see our own culture as default with other people being divergent. This is especially true if you are in the majority or are somehow privileged. Really, though, there is no default. I read the book Class: A Guide Through… Read Article →

Unpacking Culture

I’ve started Certificate in International Development from UBC! Currently I’m enrolled in Culture, Communication, and Development. The homework this week was to unpack your own cultural identities. A sort of self-reflection. Mine is below. My homework: The cultural identities that most strongly influence me are nationality, generation, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status, religion/ spirituality, family/ marital status, and voluntary group identification. (By voluntary group identification, I’m referring to the peer… Read Article →

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 →

Reflections on 10 Months as a School Counselor in Bhutan

Guest post by Moira Herbert, BSW University of Sydney I’m a social worker/ youth worker from a small town in Australia. Last year on a whim I applied for an ad I was sent over Facebook. At the time I truly believed I had nowhere near the level of experience that was required, but I thought it would be good to experience the interview process. Three months later I found… 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 →

Making Sense of Bhutan’s 2015 GNH Survey Results

92.1% are reportedly happy in Bhutan, per the provisional findings of the 2015 Gross National Happiness Survey. That’s a very specific number, and it’s worth looking at how it was determined. Luckily, I was just at the International Conference on Gross National Happiness where they explained it all. How does the GNH survey happiness? Actually, it doesn’t directly measure happiness. It measures the GNH “domains,” and that data is used… Read Article →

The cover of Jaime Zeppa's book Beyond the Sky and the Earth.

Book Review: Beyond the Earth and the Sky by Jamie Zeppa

Beyond the Earth and the Sky: A Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa is a personal account of a woman’s years in Bhutan volunteering as a teacher. The book is quite popular with the expats and volunteers in Thimphu. On the surface, the book’s popularity stems from the wealth of interesting and useful information about Bhutanese culture. On a deeper level, I believe that people appreciate the book’s authentic account… Read Article →