Multicultural Living


The day was presented by Brothers Tom Kearney and Amandi Mboya of the Community Support Team for the communities in the East Africa District.  They sought to explore how to grow in awareness of a person’s inner processes when he or she is called to live in a place or culture different from their own.

They invited the Brothers to ask the following questions:

  • What have I noticed different as I begin the programme?
  • How are people different?
  • What did I feel when I noticed this?
  • What could I not understand?
  • What kind of thoughts went through my head as I entered this new place?

They presented the iceberg model of culture where some of the differences are clearly on the surface, while most of the elements are hidden. They showed how the practice of basic communication skills can greatly facilitate the challenge of facing differences.

Brother Tom outlined various phases in the growth of multicultural living.  These can be summarised as:

  1. Cross-cultural knowledge: the importance of studying some aspects of a new culture
  2. Cross-cultural awareness: coming to understand and appreciate culture internally
  3. Cross-cultural sensitivity:  this is a by-product of the first two points
  4. Cross-cultural competence:  the result of achieving the previous three abilities

Finally, they showed a Ted Talk where the speaker stressed the danger of having a single story for any culture.  Cultures are far more complex than any one story!

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