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Cross-cultural Awareness









Cross cultural awareness

In a world where American/European culture is spreading ever further, it can seem that we are all becoming more and more the “same” – same jeans, same trainers, same mobile phones. The reality is very different. Fortunately the world still contains an enormous diversity of languages, cultural understandings, and ways of making sense of life and the world around us. 

But - particularly for those who have been socialised into the “superiority” mindset of American/European cultures, it is all too easy to assume that other people see the world as you do or that your own way of seeing the world is “right”.

In today’s world of international travel, migration, immigration, international aid, very many professions, ranging from businessmen, aid workers, journalists, and those working in health services, government and local authority, are working with a greater diversity of people than at any time in history. It is more important than ever to minimise cultural imperialism.

Unless you can see the values of your own culture clearly, it is difficult to reflect sensitively on cultures which may be very different.  When you are able to reflect on your own assumptions, you are far more likely to be able to accept that other people may see the world differently. You are also much less likely to want to impose your own values and attitudes on others. Accepting one’s own ignorance and that the people with whom you are working are always the experts on their own life and experiences can also be difficult.  To listen and learn, rather than to rush in and “help” requires humility, patience and a real capacity for respectful listening.

Cross cultural awareness workshops where these complex issues can be examined are of enormous value.  Jane can design and facilitate workshops for any group working in international contexts from aid workers to health service staff in the UK. Workshops are designed for specific groups, enabling particular issues of direct relevance to participants to be examined in greater depth.

See: (opens PDF file in new window)

Gilbert, J. (2005) Humility helps find cultural solutions.

People in Aid Newsletter, July, 8.


Gilbert, J. (2003) Cross Cultural Awareness: Minimising Cultural Imperialism in a Globalising World.

Unpublished paper for International Service


Cross cultural workshops for clinicians

Sample workshop contents