Students Benefit from Innovative Partnership on Cultural Competency
by Eli Meyer, Assistant Director, CLLAS
Starr Miller is one of six UO graduate students who underwent special diversity training through the Intercultural Competency Program (ICP), an innovative partnership between CLLAS; the Department of Planning, Public Policy, and Management; and the Center for Equity Promotion. When asked what she learned from her ICP experience, Miller—a graduate student in the Department of International Studies who interned with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health in Nicaragua, said that not only had she increased her Spanish language skills by an incredible degree, she improved her field research skills and learned about navigating professionally within a different culture.
“I was able to witness power differentials as they played out among the poor rural citizens in the area and the doctors and nurses as well,” Miller said. “I really learned so much by sitting back and observing.”
ICP, a two-year pilot program that began in fall 2012, combined bold curricular innovations focused on career building and professional development, mentoring, training, and field research to produce graduates who are well positioned to serve Latino populations in state and municipal governments, NGOs, community service organizations, and Latino businesses. The program consisted of two linked prerequisite courses and an inter-cultural internship. ICP was funded by a two-year Graduate Innovations grant from the UO Graduate School.
In addition to Miller, five other graduate students successfully completed the ICP program. Congratulations to:
- Lokyee Au, Environmental Studies, who interned with Beyond Toxics, Eugene.
- Patricia Toledo, Nonprofit Management, who interned with Huerto De La Familia, Eugene.
- Lindsay Pepper, International Studies, who interned with EduCARE India, India.
- Allison Brinkhorst, Nonprofit Management, who interned with Social Justice Fund NW, Eugene.
- Daniel Platt, English, who interned with Downtown Languages, Eugene.
Although the ICP has ended, perhaps other units on campus will replicate this model of hands-on learning and intercultural education. After all, many job descriptions now list “experience working with people from diverse backgrounds” as a requirement. I would like to see UO offer students many opportunities to gain this important experience.