Cultural Competence in Academic Institutions

2016 – What a Year!

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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Training Students of Optometry in Cultural Competence

We’ve discussed how Hadassah Academic College is becoming the first academic institution to become culturally competent. We started with staff and administration, and now we’re moving on to training students.

Learning the cultural competence of optometry care

Learning the cultural competence of optometry care

On June 1 we held our first workshops with 33 students of optometry who are in their fourth and last year of training. This group in and of itself was one of many cultures – Jews, Muslims Christians, religious and secular, new immigrants and veterans.

The workshop was adapted from our one-day introductory workshop. Students learned how to provide culturally competent services, as they drew upon their own experiences at the college.

“It was weird for me to call the lecturer by his first name. In my school we never call the teacher by his name, we called him ‘teacher,'” said one participant.

They had studied together for years and knew one another, but had never discussed issues relating to their identities, and to cultural competency. “This was the first time I’ve had an opportunity to get to know Christians,” said another participant.

They also learned different skills that are unique to Jerusalem – how to give an Ultra-Orthodox person (who is forbidden to touch someone of the opposite sex) a vision test. Or what happens if there isn’t a common language.

A Christian student shared that once, in preparing for an eye test, a client asked her to hide the cross that was on her necklace. The discussion that ensued touched on a number of subjects – on generalizations, legitimacy of the request, the public space, and social and political tensions. At first the student was hesitant about sharing the experience, but afterward she was appreciative of the support.

Next year we are planning workshops for students in all 4 years of their optometry study, each year deepening their understanding of cultural competency.

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

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“Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City” Conference

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

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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Cultural Competency in Hadassah Academic College

The end of the Jewish High Holidays signal the beginning of the academic year for Israel’s colleges and universities. This year, Hadassah Academic College is beginning the year much more culturally competent than last, and it will continue the trend, into this upcoming school year.

Training at Hadassah College

Training at Hadassah College

We began working with the college in November of 2014, after a very difficult summer and fall in Jerusalem. During the year we began operating a series of seminars for administration and lecturers on the principles of cultural competency and how they applied to an academic setting. Read here for more information about the beginning of the process.

Practicing in big and small groups

Practicing in big and small groups

The different types of course studies at the Hadassah College are are vastly different in nature from one another. There are those that are based on laboratory work, those that are based on frontal lectures, those that work with patients. Sometimes communication with the lecturers is direct and sometimes most of the students’ communication with the administration is done through counselors. So we adapted the different workshops to the different kinds of learning systems in place. In June and July, we held four full-day workshops for 80 faculty members from 7 different departments (laboratory sciences, environmental health, biotechnology, optometry and computer science), conducting workshops in groups according to learning style. Throughout the 2015 – 2016 school year we will continue to work with faculty from different departments. In the next stage, we will work with students who work with patients (such as speech therapy and optometry) during their training.

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Hadassah College – First Academic Institution to Become Culturally Competent

Jerusalem’s everyday reality has become increasingly complex over the past few months, but that the same time, some wonderful things are happening in the field of cultural competency. About a month ago, we began a long-term process to make Jerusalem’s Hadassah Academic College culturally competent. It will be the first academic institution in Israel to undergo this process, and it is happening in Jerusalem.

Hadassah College simulation

Hadassah College simulation

We began with a number of in-depth discussions with different department heads and administration, since we had to adapt our curriculum, which has been developed for the health care system, to the needs of the College. These discussions culminated in an all-day seminar for 30 department heads and administration on September 30. The workshop included principles of cultural competency, as well as a number of simulations, which enabled participants to experience specific culturally sensitive situations, and have guided discussions on methods of dealing with different intercultural challenges. Much of the discussion centered around issues in relation to the college’s Arab student body, which comprises 15% of the total student population. One of the main issues discussed were the obstacles of communication and language gaps between students and lecturers. They focused on a number of sensitive points, from the admissions interview, to regarding the different approaches toward education, and more. The next step will be for the participants to decide on a broader plan of action – who else will participate in the training workshops, and what other steps will the College take in becoming culturally competent.

How did Hadassah come to this? They are very minded about diversity. They have a very diverse student body, and, since they are located close to the seam line between East and West Jerusalem, on Nevi’im Street which designates the border between the secular neighborhoods and the very Haredi neighborhoods of Geulah and Meah Shearim, diversity and multi-culturalism is on their mind. The summer war and ongoing general tensions in Jerusalem made the need even greater.

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