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Column: NCIC to offer more cultural trainings

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Integration Collaborative (NCIC) has been working on promoting cultural awareness and student success for 10 years. During this time a wealth of opportunities like festivals, celebrations, classes and dialogues have been offered in an effort to increase cultural awareness. Many people have increased their awareness about other cultures through these opportunities.

Now, Nobles County Integration Collaborative is working to be more intentional in offering opportunities that will not only increase cultural awareness, but will also increase cultural competence of the participants and the cultural integration of groups in our area. As an organization, we are making a commitment to provide more in-depth opportunities for personal and professional growth related to intercultural development.

Beginning in late January, Nobles County Integration Collaborative will be hosting a book club on the book "Cultural Intelligence: A Guide to Working with People from Other Cultures" by Brooks Peterson. This book club is open to school personnel as well as area residents who are interested.

In the introduction to the book, the author states, "Cultural Intelligence is for people who know that culture is important, who realize that international cultural issues affect their daily work, and who want to improve their awareness, understanding and skills."

This course will be a unique blend of reading, personal reflection and learning through shared experience.

Individuals who participate in the book club will increase their understanding of traits that distinguish one culture from another. In the book "Cultural Intelligence," the author shares five scales or continuums that are significant dimensions of culture. These five scales include: Equality -- Hierarchy; Direct -- Indirect; Individual -- Group; Task -- Relationship; and Risk -- Caution. By considering where a culture falls on the continuum, it helps people to better understand and be able to articulate similarities and differences between cultures.

Book Club participants will spend time learning about and reflecting on their own culture and will visit in-person with immigrants who have settled in this area. At the end of the session, participants will also have the opportunity to take the Intercultural Development Inventory, an assessment tool that helps individuals or groups identify their placement on the intercultural development continuum.

The Cultural Intelligence Book Club will meet every-other Thursday, beginning Jan. 28 for seven sessions. It is free and open to the public. For more information or to sign up for the book club, call NCIC at 376-3300.

NCIC will also be offering a three-day cultural competence training in the summer called "Culturally Responsive Youth Work Matters." Anyone who works with children or teens is welcome to enroll in this class as well. Certificates of participation will be provided for both programs. For information on other NCIC programs, visit our Web site at

Sharon Johnson is NCIC Coordinator in District 518.