SO soon! Indeed time flies at lightning speed and here staring at us is Asean 2015! And what’s in it for us in academe? But first, a very brief overview of Asean.
We are one of ten countries wishing to band together as a single market. We expect that by end of December this year Asean will have measures mostly in place which are designed, like the European Union, to reduce trade barriers and consequently attract more investments. We expect to have free flow of goods, services, investment and skilled labor among “us” – us, meaning the ten member countries of Southeast Asia with the 617 million people (2011 estimate) inhabiting Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, ...view middle of the document...
We can gear socio-cultural courses toward learning outcomes such as cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, cultural understanding of and cultural sensitivity towards our Asean neighbors. This is important because our aim for Asean is that while we may have differing life styles, or “blueprint for living” (Clyde Kluckhohn’s classic definition), we are able to relate well with one another. Aware that Asean countries have differing cultures, we will try to know, understand and become sensitive to what may be acceptable or not acceptable to a particular culture. The final goal, culture-wise, is, we develop cultural competence.
Besides formally introducing the concept of culture through germane courses, we could popularize the meaning of culture as a theme in extra-class activities such as symposia or lecture series, student conferences, workshops, exhibits, dramas/plays, skits, other modes of theater programs and the like and maximize the use of digital technology as in cartoons, animations, etc. We can even stretch the reach of our efforts through our civic engagement activities if we invite as audiences and partners our catchment communities from our outreach areas, and those from civic, religious and professional organizations. Our reach would include housewives, farmers, security guards, street children, etc. For us teachers and our learners, these are fun ways to develop more awareness, an intensive motivation to gain an informed understanding of peoples and their respective cultures. Actual engagement would help develop cultural sensitivity and hopefully when Asean is actually experienced, we can demonstrate that we are truly culturally competent.
To show how cultural awareness, knowledge, understanding and sensitivity, are all imperatives to becoming culturally competent, I share you the following anecdotes.
Several years ago, I came across a newspaper item about a community composed of our Moslem brothers feeling so insulted when in their community, a lechon (roasted pig) as is usual among us Christians, was made the centerpiece of a party to celebrate a military victory. This action illustrates a pronounced lack of cultural sensitivity borne out of lack of cultural awareness or knowledge even if the taboo on pork by our Moslem brothers is better known these days than in yesteryears. The bottom-line of that incident is lack of cultural sensitivity and thus is short of cultural competence.
Another example is a field experience of one of my graduate students, a member of the military enrolled in Cultural Diversity in the Workplace, which he related in class. His story illustrates how a lack of cultural knowledge got their group into ill-will during a time they were deployed in a Mangyans community. Assigned to prepare food for his group, he looked for a site to prepare lunch. He found a certain mound of earth topped with three big stones – just right to serve as a stove for a pot of rice to cook. He described to us how a group of...