Blog Category: ‘Cultural Competence in the Workplace’

2016 – What a Year!

January 25th, 2017

As we jump head-first into 2017, we wanted to take a minute to reflect on 2016, and what a year it’s been! Overall, a year of unprecedented growth and development, and we can’t wait to get started in 2017. Here are some highlights:

Cultural Competence

  • The Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City conference in May 2016, organized jointly by the JICC and the Jerusalem Foundation as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, was a turning point for the JICC. Attended by hundreds of professionals, from Jerusalem and throughout Israel, the conference presented strides that have been made over the past 10 years, and set the stage for the next step of meeting diverse residents’ diverse needs, in all areas of life.
  • Continued work in the health care system, in Jerusalem and as a model throughout Israel, training in-house coordinators and facilitators to increase sustainability and adaptability within individual institutions. For the first time, work included a national network of hospitals and clinics.
  • Expansive work in the Israel Police Force, reaching most police stations and present and future commanding officials, and continuing to expand training in 2017.
  • Groundbreaking work with the National Insurance Institute (NII), East Jerusalem branch, the first NII branch in the country to undergo a process of cultural competence.
  • In the Jerusalem Municipality, the entire Community Services Administration, which includes welfare, public health, immigrant absorption, and more, is undergoing training, as well as the Auditor’s Office which will be able to look at the entire Municipality’s operations through the prism of cultural competency and sensitivity.
  • Santé Israël, the first web site to make Israel’s health care system accessible to French speakers, celebrated its first birthday. 
Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker

Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker, Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City conference

Paramedical Professionals

Making healthcare practitioner exams accessible to Arab residents of east Jerusalem

2016 was an important year for us to take stock of the past four years of this program. Our conclusions show that:

  • The number of certified Arab paramedical professionals in East Jerusalem has grown significantly.
  • The program has enabled the JICC to more clearly map the situation of different paramedical professions in east Jerusalem, contributing to the knowledge of training in the Jerusalem area.
  • The awareness both among Palestinian institutes of higher education and health care institutions in east Jerusalem as well as Israeli Ministry of Health has been raised significantly.
  • A large window of opportunity for Arab women paramedical professionals to improve economic opportunities has been opened.

Nurses studying to pass their Israeli certification examinations

Talking Coexistence – Arabic Language Instruction

Both 2015 – 2016 and 2016 – 2017 broke enrollment records. In 2015-16 there were 180 students in 12 classes, over 5 levels. In 2016-2017, there are 240 students in 16 classes, also over 5 levels. We also held several cultural evenings to enrich students’ understanding of Arabic culture. Here’s a short video about the program:

Atta’a Assistance Center for the Rights of East Jerusalem Residents

The Atta’a Center has been in existence since 2004, and in 2015 it came under the aegis of the JICC. In 2016 we have seen:

  • 70% growth in number of requests
  • Ballooning of its Facebook page to over 7,100 ‘likes,’ and launching of its web site.
  • Publication of a widely-referenced booklet on the Ministry of Interior
  • Expansion of network of partners in action, both from NGO’s and advocacy groups as well as municipal and government agencies.

Atta’a Presenting workshops

MiniActive for Arab Residents of East Jerusalem

  • For the first time ever, MiniActive activities led to a change in policy. After months of campaigning, MiniActive led the way toward the addition of 3 million NIS to the annual municipal sanitation budget for east Jerusalem, and 16 million NIS for the purchase of additional equipment for sanitation. As a result of this work, the entire Municipality is focusing their attention on garbage collection throughout
  • In January 2016, MiniActive organized the first ever Arabic language Horticulture Therapy course in Jerusalem for special education teachers, in cooperation with the David Yellin Academic College of Education.
  • Bus stops in entire neighborhoods were repaired and replaced, thanks to MiniActive.
  • 210 women – including 50 youth – are studying Hebrew through a volunteer NGO to improve the effectivity of their activism. This is a record-breaking number, which broke last year’s record of 150 women.
  • In MiniActive Youth for the Environment, teenage girls learn leadership skills while participating in major environment-improving public art and other projects in neighborhoods throughout east Jerusalem.
  • MiniActive became a model for international work, hosting a delegation that works with the Roma population in the Czech Republic in November 2016.

Take a look at MiniActive’s own year in review. It’s pretty easy to understand, even if you don’t know Arabic:

Emergency Readiness Networks

In 2016 we expanded the network to include 14 communities throughout Jerusalem. In addition to training new volunteers, the program included training of existing networks to maintain ability to respond and increase sustainability.

Planning on map

Planning strategy on map

Multicultural Participatory Democracy

In 2016 we mentored community center staffs in Gilo, Kiryat Menachem, Givat Messuah, Baka’a and south Talpiot. For the first time, residents – especially the Ethiopian community in Kiryat Menachem and the highly diverse community of south Talpiot –felt that they were able to influence issues that affected their everyday lives. Training included using Facebook as a community-building tool key to increasing residents’ engagement in community processes.

Writing and submitting objections

Writing and submitting objections in Gilo

Promoting Tolerance in the Public Sphere

Since the summer of 2014 the JICC have been at the forefront of promoting tolerance in Jerusalem. 2016 accomplishments include:

  • A Different Day in Jerusalem celebrated Jerusalem’s diversity through 50 coordinated events, affecting tens of thousands of people on Jerusalem Day. It was the first time such a broad effort has been made to celebrate Jerusalem’s diversity.
  • JICC-mentored Speaking in the Square and other tolerance initiatives that came in their wake led to the redesigning of Zion Square, to be called Tolerance Square. The initiative’s Effective Dialogue methodology spread, and is now being presented in national frameworks.
  • 0202-Points of View from Jerusalem are now liked by nearly 80,000 people and reach some 150,000 people weekly on Facebook and the Internet. The network now includes pages that translate from Arabic to Hebrew, from Arabic to English and one which brings news from the Ultra-Orthodox world to the awareness of the general population.
  • The JICC was asked to be one of the leading organizations in the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations to Promote Tolerance, formed by the Center for Young Adults and the Municipality’s Young Authority.
  • The JICC is continuing to develop Tolerance Network Teams (TNT’s), a series of neighborhood-based and theme-based grassroots initiatives that seek to advance tolerance in Jerusalem.
Elhanan Miller Haaretz article

Haaretz article about A Different Day in Jerusalem

Window to Mount Zion

Since October 2015, Window to Mount Zion has bridged inter-religious and inter-community gaps that have festered between Jewish, Christian and Muslim groups for centuries. As a result of its activity over the past year:

  • In unheard-of cooperation, religious Jewish and Christian groups have issued joint statements condemning hate crimes on Mount Zion.
  • Christian ceremonies, which in the past have caused inter-religious tension, proceeded without incident.
  • The celebration of Christian and Jewish holidays that coincided simultaneously, which in the past had been the source of conflict and tension, also proceeded smoothly.
Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Asylum Seekers

The JICC, together with the Jerusalem Municipality, sponsor the only paid public servant in Israel to help asylum seekers, outside of Tel Aviv. We are also part of a consortium of organizations and agencies that seek to meet the needs of asylum seekers living in the city.

Tour of Nahlaot neighborhood

Families of asylum seekers on tour of Nahlaot neighborhood

Thank You!

Many many thanks go out to our partners in action and our donors. You can read about our activities in more detail either by clicking on the hyperlinks above, or by clicking here.

Looking forward to making 2017 even better!

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NII – Knowing We’re Having an Impact in Cultural Competency

December 13th, 2016

It’s always nice to be appreciated, but it’s especially nice to know we’re being appreciated in one of the most culturally tense places in Jerusalem – the East Jerusalem branch of the National Insurance Institute (NII).

During the recent site visits

During the recent site visits

We’ve described here how we’ve been working with them over the past year or so. This is groundbreaking work – the first NII branch in Israel to undergo a process of cultural competency training and adaptation, all in one of the most tense, most sensitive areas, East Jerusalem.

We also described here how, as part of this process, we organized site visits of four major organizations with which we’ve worked, so that NII team members could better understand how different aspects of cultural competency are implemented on-the-ground.

Just a few weeks later, we received a thank-you letter. It read:

Dear Hagai,

On behalf of the employees of the East Jerusalem branch of the National Insurance Institute, I would like to express our appreciation and gratitude to the staff of the Jerusalem Intercultural Center, and especially Ms. Orna Shani…[As a result of the site visits] the staff returned excited and challenged to work together to learn lessons [from these experiences] and obtain the right tools for our organization and branch.

…The fact that you chose to invest your best efforts, your time and your knowledge in us is not to be taken for granted. For this we have immense gratitude.

We are only beginning the process, and are pioneers and leaders in the National Insurance Institute.

Waiting for continued joint work,

Eti Ra’anan Ezer

Director

East Jerusalem Branch

In response, Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, National Director of the National Insurance Institute, noted that this was a “unique, significant and worthy activity.”

Here’s a link to the original letter in Hebrew:

NII thank you letter

NII thank you letter

We’re also proud of our joint work with the NII East Jerusalem branch, and look forward to continuing to integrate principles of cultural competency in their important work.

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On Our Way to Making the Entire Jerusalem Municipality Culturally Competent

October 15th, 2016

If making Jerusalem a culturally competent city is to continue to be one of our main goals, then making the Municipality Culturally Competent is one of our major tasks. The task is huge – there are dozens of municipal departments and thousands – if not tens of thousands – of municipal workers.

Slowly but surely, we’re working our way through. In the summer we began in-depth processes with the Community Services Administration, one of the Municipality’s main arms. You can read more about it here.  We’ve also begun working with the Comptroller’s office.

Learning about Mt. Zion from a Window to Mt. Zion perspective

Learning about Mt. Zion from a Window to Mt. Zion perspective

Last week, on October 6, staff from the Comptroller’s office had an intensive learning experience in cultural competency, with Mount Zion as a case study. They first had a tour of Mount Zion by Merav, coordinator of our Window to Mount Zion project, with an emphasis on some of the many stories of cultural competence that the project has facilitated over the past year, from enabling Christian pilgrims to enter David’s Tomb for a short time during the Orthodox Christian Pentacost (in years past this has caused violent reactions by Jewish devotees), to sharing the Mount on the during the weekend when the Jewish holiday of Purim and the Catholic and Protestant celebration of Easter. (You can read more about the Window to Mount Zion project here and here, and about Purim / Easter here.)

After learning about the uniqueness of Mount Zion and the Window to Mount Zion project, we presented the Comptroller’s office staff with a general overview of the principles of cultural competency at our home on Mount Zion. This began the discussion on how to integrate these principles into the everyday work of the Comptroller’s office.

They told us how excited they were to see these areas in person. They’d dealt with a lot of issues on Mt. Zion, but had never had the introduction and explanations that we gave them. They were happy to get that different perspective.

We’ll keep you posted on future developments.

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Cultural Competency Training for Municipal Community Department

July 22nd, 2016

Cultural Competency – we’ve talked a lot about it, on the blog and on our website, but what is it really?

When we began that discussion some ten years ago, we focused on the health care context. Indeed, if health care services are not culturally competent and sensitive to the vast diversity of cultures in Jerusalem and throughout Israel, it really can be a life or death situation.

Cultural Competency at Hadassah Hospital

Cultural Competency at Hadassah Hospital

But Cultural Competency is so much more than that. In those past ten years, we’ve developed and refined our definition of  Cultural Competency to encompass much of our entire approach to community work: All residents have the right to receive basic services (health, education, welfare) that are culturally adapted to best suit their needs. Cultural Competent services enable professionals to provide those services most effectively, and culturally competent residents are empowered to most effectively access these rights and services. You can read about the most recent work we’ve done to advance cultural competency in a number of fields – in health, the police, the workplace, academia. Now, we’re proud to be officially providing widespread training in the Jerusalem Municipality.

Training senior municipal professionals

Training senior municipal professionals

We’ve been working with the municipal welfare department for several years, facilitating workshops for them here and there, providing critical assistance in emergency situations (like the Haredi mother who was accused of starving her child). All the while, we were looking for ways to introduce cultural competency in a systemic way.

A few weeks ago it began. Not only the welfare department, with which we’d been working before, but the entire Social Services Department, which includes the Welfare Department, the Employment Authority, the Absorption Authority and the Public Health. About 80 senior officials from all the different Departments are participating in the first five workshops, which we are now taking place. The workshops introduce principles of the tools and insights of cultural competency.  But this is only the beginning. In the future we expect to hold workshops adapted to the different areas – veterinary services, well-baby clinics, absorption authority, daycare frameworks, welfare workers and social workers, and more.  All will undergo workshops led by those trained to lead cultural competency workshops.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its continued support of the Cultural Competency program throughout the years.

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JICC Completes Training Course for Police Commanders

July 14th, 2016

What is it like to be a police officer, and be responsible for keeping order and enforcing the law?

Police officers everywhere are on the front lines of law enforcement, bringing them into contact with a vast diversity of people. All too often, as we’ve recently seen in the USA as well as in Israel, events can get out of hand very quickly.

Protesting police treatment in Israel

Protesting police treatment in Israel July 3, 2016

The Israel Police understands the complexities of working with Israel’s different – and sometimes conflicting – population groups, and for the past year we at the JICC have been working with various ranks and groups in cultural competency training.

Israel police officers

Israel police officers

Last week we finished a course for police officials at the National Police Academy. The 50 course graduates, Superintendents and Chief Superintendents, represent the next generation of commanding officers in the Israel Police. Each will command soon a police station or a large police unit. The JICC has been mentoring the course for the past six months, from introducing them to the concept, to integrating cultural competency into different areas of the training course, and in writing a module in the unit commander’s file – on how to operate a culturally competent unit. We, together with the course participants, edited the comprehensive file. In the summary meeting of the course that was held with the Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, the entire course’s work was presented. This included recommendations and tools on how to manage and operate a culturally competent police unit. The JICC, together with the officers of the course and the staff of the National Police Academy, will continue to work to advance the use of these recommendations within the Israel Police.

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“Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City” Conference

June 1st, 2016

In what other setting could you find the Jewish Mayor of Jerusalem introduced in both Hebrew and Arabic, followed by the President of the Jerusalem Foundation, herself addressing the audience in English, Hebrew and Arabic, followed by a Muslim Canadian keynote speaker of Pakistani origin? Only at the “Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City” conference, which we hosted, along with the Jerusalem Foundation, at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Tuesday, May 17.

It was the culmination of 10 years of working to advance cultural competency, together with the Jerusalem Foundation. What began as focusing on health care, at the ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital, at Clalit primary care clinics and at the Hadassah Medical Center Mount Scopus has blossomed into a concept that encompasses all fields and all sectors, in Jerusalem and throughout Israel.

Opening the conference in Arabic and Hebrew

Opening the conference in Arabic and Hebrew

Throughout the day over 300 people participated, listening to over 70 speakers. They came from all walks of life, from all different fields. We had professionals from the municipality, senior officials in planning, education, welfare and community life. We had researchers and leaders from colleges, universities and think tanks. We had active community residents. We had professionals from a wide range of NGO’s. We had the Israel Police and the IDF. We had Christian and Muslim Arabs, some residents of East Jerusalem, some not. We had secular, traditional, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews. The entire day was conducted with Arabic, Hebrew and English on equal footing. (You can see the tri-lingual program here.) We had it all. We had Jerusalem in all its wonderful diversity.

Tri-lingual invitation

The tri-lingual invitation

Throughout the day, we discussed ways that service providers, in all fields, can make their services equally accessible to all of Jerusalem’s populations, making them culturally competent. And on the residents’ side, we discussed ways that they can work to improve their own access to these rights and services, many of which are guaranteed them by law. We discussed strategies and challenges, and the process in between. It was fascinating, exhilarating and downright riveting.

Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker

Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker

Mayor Nir Barkat opened the conference, saying: “The starting point for any activity that we do in Jerusalem is the city’s unique DNA, which is unlike any other city in the world.” When the city was founded, more than 3,000 years ago, “its gates were open to everyone, all tribes, Jewish and not…No one felt like they were a guest in Jerusalem…Everyone found their place,” he continued. It is this philosophy, where everyone finds their place, that informs us to this day.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at conference

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at conference

Yohanna Arbib-Perugia, President of the Jerusalem Foundation, was the next speaker. She emphasized the important role of cultural competence in a diverse and unique city as Jerusalem. Seeing the Jerusalem Intercultural Center as a strategic partner of the Foundation, she believes that the focus of the Foundation on cultural competence will deepen in the coming years.

Uzma Shakir, Director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights, City of Toronto, was the keynote speaker. She described the processes taking place in Toronto and throughout Canada regarding multiculturalism and cultural competency, which include developing approaches appropriate to the vastly different population groups in Canada, from the native populations to the Francophone community of Quebec to recent immigrants from south Asia and elsewhere. She first defined the role of cultural competency:

Cultural competency can be viewed in two ways: it can either be seen as paternalistic and prescriptive – something you do for others who have either limited or unequal power to claim their rights; or transformative and critical – consciously producing spaces that address those power differentials in a meaningful manner and eventually lead to an equitable and just society. In other words, cultural competency can mean being nice to people while maintaining the status quo of inequality or it can mean empowering marginalized people to take control over their own destiny and to change the conditions in society to produce equitable and just outcomes for all. However, this requires an honest recognition of who is marginalized and then consciously co-creating the conditions for inclusion. In this sense, Toronto has its challenges just like Jerusalem and provides some compelling lessons.

She explained the desired outcome of culturally competent processes through this picture:

Three views of Equity

Three views of Equity

In the first approach, existing infrastructures render services equally for different people. However, since people’s needs are different, equal provision of services does not create proper equality. In the second approach, adjustments are made, often ad hoc, to be able to work within the existing infrastructure to provide services in a way that responds differently to the different needs. In the third approach, infrastructure is built from the start with the different needs of different people in mind, to enable each to meet his or her particular needs in the best way possible.

Here is Ms. Shakir’s full speech:

For the speech in written form, click here.

 

Discussing challenges to cultural competency

Discussing challenges to cultural competency

Following the opening session, four parallel sessions addressed different aspects of cultural competency. These included, “Setting & Implementing Cultural Competence Policy in An Organization,” “Cultural Competence in the Public Sphere,” “Coping with Social and Political Tensions in a Multicultural City,” and “Cultural Competence Activities of the Community.” Speakers included the directors of the Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem, Museum of Islamic Art, the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, the ALYN Hospital Pediatric Rehabilitation Center, the Haredi College, community centers from around the city, senior officials in the Municipality, and many, many more.

Setting and implementing cultural competence in organizations

Setting and implementing cultural competence policy in organizations

Even lunch was an exercise in cultural competency. Different foods were labeled with no translation in a range of languages – from Amharic to Russian to Polish and more. Choosing food at the buffet became a funny challenge….

How do you say salmon in Amharic?

How do you say salmon in Amharic?

After lunch the plenary session discussed major organizations’ efforts to make their services culturally competent. Speakers ranged from the Director of Community Services Administration in the Jerusalem Municipality, the President of Hadassah Academic College, the Director of the Jerusalem Center for Mental Health, and the Commander of the David Precinct of the Israel Police (which includes the all resident quarters of the Old City (Christian Quarter, Muslim Quarter, Armenian Quarter, Jewish Quarter), plus sites such as the Western Wall, the Temple Mount  / Haram al-Sharif, Mount Zion and the David’s Tomb complex). The final parallel sessions discussed case studies in cultural competency in different fields – education, health care (This was considered ‘advanced cultural competency’ since indeed our work began in health care some 10 years ago.), arts and culture and community activism toward tolerance.

Our heartfelt thanks go to the Jerusalem Foundation for their partnership and support over these past 10 years. And many congratulations on their 50th anniversary celebrations, of which this conference was a part.

It was the first conference surveying cultural competency in Jerusalem. Will there be another? Stay tuned to find out.

Looking for more? Here’s the video of the entire opening session:

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Petition! Santé Israël Website – Example of Helping French-Speakers in Israel in Healthcare

February 18th, 2016

“For years, the Pharmadom Foundation has helped the most vulnerable populations in Israel to seek and support emerging or not covered by government requirements. This is what led us to recently create the Santé Israël (“Health Israel”) website, which has quickly established itself as a valuable tool to help French Olim to navigate the Israeli health system.”

This is what the Pharmadom Foundation said about our Santé Israël website in a recent petition  that seeks to enable French-trained pharmacists to practice in Israel without being required to take certification examinations.

Pharmadom petition

Pharmadom petition site

Santé Israël was launched in September 2015, and was developed thanks to a partnership with Pharmadom. Santé Israël is a mobile-friendly website makes Israel’s health care system accessible to French speakers. The site offers comprehensive explanations about Israel’s health care system, which is vastly different from that of France, as well as its four main health funds.

We’re happy to be a prime example of their work. Many wishes for success with the petition!

Many thanks to the Pharmadom Foundation for their ongoing support of the project. The Pharmadom Foundation works under the auspices of the Foundation of French Judaism (FSJU) and the Rashi Foundation.

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Healthcare Certification Training: Taking Stock

February 15th, 2016

Over the past few weeks we’ve gotten some great news – that 6 more occupational therapists who took our course passed the Ministry of Health certification exam, and several more were very close. As the results continue to come in, we thought we’d take stock over the past 4 years of the program. We’ve really come a long way:

  • The program has increased the number of certified Arab paramedical professionals in East Jerusalem exponentially. Since it began in 2012, nearly 70 nurses, occupational therapists, and physical therapists to pass their Israeli certification exams. This includes 37 nurses, 24 occupational therapists and 6 physical therapists. Beforehand, only 1-2 would pass each year in each discipline. It would have taken many years to achieve these results otherwise.
  • The program has enabled us to more clearly map the situation of different paramedical professions in East Jerusalem, contributing to the knowledge of training in the Jerusalem area. As we developed courses for different disciplines, we have gained an in-depth knowledge of the state of diverse fields in East Jerusalem. This is the first time ever that any type of mapping has been done, and this information is now available for the first time to health care and educational institutions, as well as the Israel Ministry of Health.
  • The program has raised awareness both among Palestinian institutes of higher education and health care institutions in East Jerusalem as well as Israeli Ministry of Health. When we began the program, there was little compliance and even less awareness about the need and benefits of having staff that have passed the certification exam in their fields. Today, all the major health care institutions in East Jerusalem, Palestinian universities, as well as Ministry of Health, better understand this need. We believe this understanding will lead to an improvement in health care in East Jerusalem.
  • The program has opened a large window of opportunity for Arab women paramedical professionals to improve economic opportunities. After they pass their certification exams improves their access to employment rights, which includes an increase in pay and employment conditions.
  • As a result of the program, the JICC has earned a prestigious reputation for offering high-quality courses. Since we began these courses, graduates of the physical therapy and occupational therapy courses have had high rates of success in passing the certification examinations. As a result of this success, graduates, and even expectant graduates, of the different Palestinian universities have requested to register for courses well in advance.
  • Our reputation proceeds itself in expanding to new disciplines. As a result of the success of graduates of physical and occupational therapy, graduates of other paramedical professions – speech therapists and medical laboratory technicians – have requested we develop courses, which are now in various stages of development. Thus, we have expanded our offerings from two to six (also including physical therapy, speech therapy, medical laboratory technicians and medical Hebrew). We are also in regular contact with the medical faculty of Al-Quds University, ready to assist if needed.
A meeting of the nursing course

A meeting of the nursing course

We’ve just started a new course for physical therapists, and are developing courses for speech therapists and medical lab technicians. We’ll keep you posted on further updates.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation and the Hadassah Foundation for their support of this program.

 

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Training the Trainers in Cultural Competency – Reaching the Peak of Project Development

December 13th, 2015

We’ve been working in Cultural Competency for a long time – 8 years to be exact. Our work has run the gamut of both deep and broad – our work at the ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital in Jerusalem included not only training all personnel in the principles of cultural competency, but also ensuring that signs and forms were translated into a number of languages, as well as enabling medical interpretation in a number of languages. Our work with the Israel Ministry of Health led to the directive that required all health care institutions to become culturally competent. We worked in individual clinics and HMO’s on the national level. We’ve been developing, together with the Bar Ilan University Department of Interpreting and Translation, training films and a training guide to use with the films. The guide was recently completed, which led us to the next natural step – a training the trainers course.

Training the Trainers Class Picture

Training the Trainers Class Picture

The course was a 5-session workshop – 40 academic hours – that ran from November 5 – December 3, 2015. It included 15 participants from all over Israel, including 5 Jerusalem representatives – from ALYN, the Jerusalem Center for Mental Health, Hadassah Mount Scopus, Hadassah Ein Kerem and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Participants came from a wide variety of fields within the health care system – social work, occupational therapy, nursing, admissions officers, instructors in nursing schools and more. Two participants had already been our students – in medical interpreting courses for professionals in mental health fields.

The course was based on the short movies and the instruction handbook that were produced over the last two years. The course included skills on how to facilitate training workshops, cultural competency workshops that are based on the movies or on case studies that the participants bring with them. The course was such a success that we are already planning the next one – hurry and sign up, before it is full!

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Toward Culturally Competent Employment Training and Placement

November 17th, 2015

Cultural competency affects us all, nearly everywhere – in the health care system, in the welfare system, in the education system, and more. Issues related to cultural competency also come into play in employment training and placement, and we are proud to be a part of change in the system.

Be-Atzmi workshop

Be-Atzmi workshop

On November 10 we held an all-day seminar for the Be-Atzmi organization, which assists thousands of unemployed and underprivileged men and women every year to integrate, on their own, into stable and appropriate workforce opportunities. Since Be-Atzmi often works with populations on the geographic and socio-economic periphery – including Israelis of Ethiopian descent, the Ultra-Orthodox, and Arab populations – a culturally competent approach to employment training and placement can be critically important for the program’s successes. Thus, this year the organization dedicated its annual professional development seminar to cultural competency.

More of the workshop

More of the workshop

The seminar was held for all workers who come in contact with clients from throughout the country – some 150 people – and was held at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yafo. The day included teaching the different skills required to deal with different issues in a culturally competent manner. These included, for example, cultural objections to going out to work, refreshments during the Muslim month of Ramadan in mixed groups, integrating husbands into decisions, etc. The seminar dealt mainly with ‘personal cultural competence,’ which means how cultural competency affects individual people. For instance, a case worker suggested what seemed to be a perfect job for a Bedouin woman – working as a maid in a hotel. The pay was above minimum wage, the wages included full benefits, and the hotel provided transportation to and from work. The one problem – in Bedouin society, working as a hotel maid is not something ‘good girls’ do. It is considered to be ‘working in the bedroom,’ just one step up from prostitution (!) The solution – all the job seekers must be interviewed to see what kinds of jobs they’d be willing to take, and it must be made sure that cultural and religious norms are not infringed upon.

Participant in workshop

Participant in workshop

Other issues that were discussed were interviews, and the different ‘western codes’ of what is acceptable and not acceptable to say in an interview, being on time, involvement of the husband in decision-making – there is a gap between what the facilitators are used to and what the clients need.

As a result of the positive feedback received by organizers and participants, we will also begin to work with Be-Atzmi in developing their organizational cultural competence as well. This means ensuring that all forms and informative publications and signage be produced in a number of languages to fit the clients’ needs, that different culture’s holidays are respected, etc. In short, it means making sure that the broader picture that is the organization thinks in a culturally competent manner.

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