Archive for February, 2009

Cultural Competence Training – Alyn – February 25, 2009

February 25th, 2009

Today we held the second Cultural Competence training to a group of staff members in the Alyn hospital in Jerusalem. This training is part of our efforts, together with the Alyn Hospital’s management, to transform Alyn into a cultural competent hospital, the first of its kind in Israel. The work with Alyn is a component of the Jerusalem Cultural Competence in Health Project initiated by the Jerusalem Intercultural Center and the Jerusalem Foundation.

The training, developed by the Jerusalem Inter-Cultural Center, uses cases raised by the participants, as well as case-studies simulated with the help of a professional medical actress. Through the analysis of these cases the participants learn models for better patient-provider inter-cultural communication, cross-cultural communication tools, best ways to work with interpreters and tele-interpreters, and ways to deal with culturally-oriented political issues that may divert staff from its professional work. Our experience shows that in Israel, probably more than in other Western countries, political issues related to racism, religious coercion and other inter-group tensions, may create major challenges to the staff.

The feedback at the end of the training was excellent. Specifically we realized that some changes we made following feedback from the last training significantly improved the effectiveness of the workshop. As the training workshops are part of an institution-wide program, we will continue to mentor the participants in their efforts to assimilate cultural competence tools in the hospital.

Tsur Baher – educational issues – February 24, 2009

February 24th, 2009

To continue the community process around education in Tsur Baher, we had today a special meeting in the village. All relevant stakeholders were present – school principals, Ministry of Education inspectors and Municipality officials including the head of the Municipality Education Department and Pepe Alalo, Jerusalem Mayor Deputy who is responsible for Education in east Jerusalem. Mr. Alalo, who was elected in November, came to learn about the process and its potential outcomes. Also in attendance were formal representatives of Tsur baher village, and representatives of the JICC and the Jerusalem Foundation.

To be honest, we were disappointed with the meeting. We felt that even though many promises were made by the municipality last December, not much has been done since then. The excuses of some of the municipality and government officials made the impression that the commitment to make a sincere change in Tzur Baher is lacking. We all understood that the head of the municipality education department must make a considerable effort in order to recruit his staff into the process. Otherwise, our more than a year old pilot project will lead us nowhere.

It is our role at the JICC to facilitate such community dialogue processes. Regression is to be expected at some points during such initiatives. It is our duty to help the sides see when is the process at risk, and we did just that at the meeting, ensuring that meetings will be conducted in the coming days to find out how can we put this important process back to track.

Fourth Training to Municipality Absorption Neighborhood Officers

February 18th, 2009

On February 18, we held the fourth training in the series that provides the Absorption Officers at the municipality with an introduction to the field of Cultural Competence.  The series covers topics such as organizational cultural competence, cross-cultural communication, tools for cultural competence, case studies and simulations.

In the workshop we learnt about medical models for inter-cultural dialogue with patients. Based on these models we formulated tools adequate to the needs of absorption officers and other service providers in their work with new immigrants. Special emphasis was given to political issues and inter-group tensions that are raised during meetings of the absorption officers with their clientele.

The absorption officers will examine the tools at work and during our next meeting in April we will conclude the discussion about the usability of such tools. In the last workshop in the series we will also focus on the role of these professionals as cultural competence agents in their neighborhoods.

A strategic group on Ultra-Orthodox – non-Ultra-Orthodox relations in Jerusalem – February 18, 2009

February 18th, 2009

We reported in an earlier post that the JICC invited a group of Jewish leaders to begin a high-level process of discussions and negotiations on the future of Jerusalem. Since then the municipal elections took place, following which a group was quietly formed to look for agreed-upon strategies for Ultra-Orthodox and non-Ultra-Orthodox Jews to live together in the city.

It is interesting to note that at present the non-Ultra-Orthodox Jews who live in Jerusalem can only be defined by “what they are not”. In the past, the alternative to Ultra-Orthodox was “secular”, reflecting affiliations in the city. The “national-religious” and other traditional Jews were defined as “in-between”. Nowadays, the demographics of the non-Ultra-Orthodox group show that it can no longer be called “secular”. Yet, this group is perceived by many residents as hegemonic in Jerusalem. Also, in many ways, the anxiety of “Haredization” of the city is common to most of the non-Ultra-Orthodox residents – be them secular or religious.

On January 19, 2009, the group of high-level Jewish leaders met for the first time to begin the tough and hard dialogue on the future of the city, looking for shared strategies. the issue of affordable housing for all groups was raised as central. For the non-Ultra-Orthodox, the issue of culture was also prominent. It was claimed that for many Jerusalemites, the city is not attractive enough. The group agreed that Jerusalem needs to preserve its “conservative” character, while at the same time creating a vibrant cultural atmosphere.

Today, on February 18, the group met again to continue the learning process. Messages were deepened and it was agreed that towards the next meeting a document should be drafted for discussion.  Stay tuned for further reports as this important process unfolds.

Third Training to Municipality Absorption Neighborhood Workers

February 4th, 2009

On February 4, we held the third training in the series that provides the Absorption Workers at the municipality with an introduction to the field of Cultural Competence.  The series covers topics such as organizational cultural competence, cross-cultural communication, tools for cultural competence, case studies and simulations.

In the training we continued and deepened our efforts to adopt Cross-Cultural Communication skills. This time, using the example of interaction between American guests and their hosts, their Israeli partners, we defined some of the main attributes of the Israeli manner of interacting and communicating. We applied these insights to interactions between Israelis who come from different cultural backgrounds, with an emphasis on new immigrants in Israel.

Next we examined positive and negative ways to judge behaviors of the “other” and how we can broaden the repertoire of behaviors that one can accept as legitimate. Yet, the main challenge is to find the bridge – to find the way to get the most out of the inter-cultural encounter. An interesting example was brought up by one of the participants regarding an Ethiopian couple who were supposed to go to the hospital for an important appointment that was set months in advance. At the last minute before their departure some of their family relatives showed up unexpectedly. According to their values and norms the Ethiopian couple had to host the guests. When they arrived to the hospital hours later the staff there were very angry with them.

At the training we took the opportunity to analyze this real life example, similar to many that we at the JICC encounter these days. We asked ourselves in which circumstances is it legitimate, in Israeli society, to arrive late to a medical appointment – e.g. death of close relative or a road closed because of a security threat. How would a “mainstream Israeli” act in order to ensure that she/he gets to the appointment even though he or she are late due to such reasons. We tried to work out how would it be possible for both sides – medical staff and patients – to get their interests and needs met in such a situation. This important example resonated with the training participants, who are exposed to similar cases in their daily work as service providers, and as those who try to help new immigrants navigate Israeli bureaucracy.

In the next meeting we will aspire to adapt medical models for inter-cultural dialogue with patients to the work of absorption officers and other service providers.