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  • Debbie Li

Leadership Workshop: Developing Cultural Awareness

Last week, current WIB members, Sabrina Mohan and Kiona Ogude, hosted a workshop discussing diversity and cultural awareness. These two ladies, although confronted with an unexpected PowerPoint glitch, still managed to carry on with the workshop with poise and success.

Sabrina and Kiona discussed the importance of embracing cultures in the professional work field and how to address individuals who may choose not to do so through a variety of interactive group activities. One of my favorite group activities was “Cultural Conundrum,” where members of the audience were given scenarios in which someone would say something that is essentially off putting and inconsiderate of one’s culture. The point of the exercise was to reinforce “the danger of sticking to a single story,” inspired by a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The floor was open for individuals to react and discuss how they would personally handle each of the scenarios. There was a variety of thought-provoking answers and reactions that continues to still leave me in awe.
The next activity and by far the most impactful, was called “Diversity Speed Dating.” This activity was essentially a cultural learning experience, where students exchanged their stories and provided fun facts of one’s culture. Whether it was a mini geography lesson on where a country is located or a tip about where the best Indian food is found, the interactive activities provided an opportunity for everyone in the room to learn a little bit about each other’s culture.
In this safe space atmosphere, everyone also had the chance to personally share their experiences of having two cultures, two tongues and essentially two stories. This workshop was very meaningful to me and to many of the individuals in the workshop because it essentially circled back to the powerful and inspiring WIB mission statement of cultivating diversity and embracing each other’s differences.
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