I'm participating in a learning experience called "Storytelling for Cultural Competence." The experience begins with writing and reflecting in a "Personal Storytelling Journal." The journal has daily prompts, weekly reflection questions and storytelling tips to help you get started on your cultural competence journey.
The first week of writing focuses on self-knowledge. As noted in the journal, learning about other cultures occurs "through increasing levels of cultural self-knowledge" (Nakanishi & Rittner).
Each time I take the time to really think about myself, I discover something that surprises me. A few years ago, I did an exercise call "50 Facts About Me," as part of a Working Out Loud circle. The exercise is to write as many facts about yourself as you can in 3 minutes. It started out pretty easy for me. "I'm a dad. I'm a husband. I live in North Dakota", etc. But once I got beyond the obvious, it became more difficult. I had to start peeling back the layers that separate me from my past experiences. "I played alto sax in high school band. I've been arrested. I'm estranged from my parents." Some of those layers have built up as a result of inattention, but I think I've created others intentionally to keep my past at bay.
I had that same experience of peeling back layers as I responded to the prompts in the "Personal Storytelling Journal." Writing about where I grew up, my ancestry and my family's socioeconomic class have led me to explore the boundary between who I am today in my everyday life and who I am at a deeper level. It's that deeper level (my experiences, theories, and judgments) that support my beliefs, and cultural factors have influenced my experiences, theories and judgments. Who I am and how I act today rests, in many ways, on those cultural factors.
I'll share more as I continue the "Storytelling for Cultural Competence" learning experience. If you want to join me, follow the link above and sign up for the "Discussion Forum." It's a closed forum, where we can share this experience with others.