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Tara Overzat
Feb 24, 2011

Day 2 of Privilege, Identity, and Cross-Cultural Diversity

Day 2 of Privilege, Identity, and Cross-Cultural Diversity – 10th Annual Southeastern Conference on Cross-Cultural Issues in Counseling and Education. The conference continued to offer a plethora of interesting sessions to attend as it rolled into its second day. I chose to attend “Addressing Cross-Cultural Barriers in Educational Settings” a thought-provoking session led by Dr. Rhonda Williams of Fayette County Public Schools Psychological Services and Kristina Brantley, a graduate student at Georgia State University.

The information presented inspired avid discussion amongst the educators in the room, and I found myself learning not only more about diversity but more about the current state of educational affairs in our country. The currently available statistics from the 2010 Census showed people self-reporting as different races and ethnicities at a higher rate than ever before. It was brought up that this may in fact be due not just to growth in minority communities, but to the fact that the Census even had the options for marking different backgrounds and the option of marking more than one race. This prompted one participant to share that the student in your classroom the day before the Census was the same student in your classroom the day after the Census. The numbers may be shocking but it is shift in the demographic make-up and the national consciousness that has been moving along for years. Not working in the public schools, I realized I had lost touch with some of the issues facing students and faculty today. Instances of subtle and not-so-subtle racism were brought up, along with overcrowding of schools being a possible factor in school violence.

After this discussion I attended a reunion of sorts, in “Cross-Cultural Supervision: Supervising Across Multiple Identity Development Issues” hosted by Dr. Diane M. Clark of Mercer University and Dr. Brenda Callahan of Georgia Southern University. Not only does Dr. Clark currently teach at Mercer, but also Dr. Callahan formerly taught there. The room was full of both past and current Mercer students along with a good mix of conference attendees from other schools and agencies across the state. The interactive presentation opened up with a case study and role-play between a counseling supervisor and his supervisee where the differences in the individuals’ stages of identity development and the dynamics between them were thoroughly dissected and discussed. Questions of gender, race, age, and experience were examined for their impact on the supervisor-supervisee relationship as well as the counselor-client relationship. Drs. Clark and Callahan were both well-versed on this topic and ebullient in their presentation of the facts and things to consider.

From there I went to the Round Table presentations, where I presented “How to Best Reach Asian International Students.” A great discussion arose about the differences in Western and Eastern culture, the way that gap is started to be bridged, and the possible applications of cyber-counseling as a way to help students receive counseling in a more private way. My thanks to those who attended the Round Table and gave their valuable insight!

Lastly, I attended the final keynote of the conference, “Multiculturalism and Difference: The search for commonalities embedded in difference” given by Dr. William Cross, Jr. of University of Nevada – Las Vegas. As mentioned in my previous post, Dr. Cross is the author of Shades of Black, Diversity in African-American Identity (Temple University Press, 1991) and is a highly respected figure in multicultural counseling and psychology. He presented the information with a laid back, almost conversational style, yet his erudition shone through as he discussed the challenges faced by minorities and how those challenges are alike across racial, ethnic, and cultural lines. He shared anecdotes from his life about growing up black in America, and interesting insights about the stresses minorities may face if they feel they must have different “selves” in different contexts and situations. This illuminating talk was the perfect capstone to the conference. Thank you to Georgia Southern University and all those whose hard work made the conference possible!

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