This week I was afforded the opportunity to attend one of the training sessions in the YMCA Global Leader Certification program. The program consists of an online orientation, three in-person classes, and a service project that allows you to apply what you’ve learned from the trainings. The goal is to provide Y employees with the cultural competency necessary to effectively engage and serve all people in our rapidly changing and globalizing communities.
The class I attended covered building relationships through cultural lenses. The workshop was designed to enhance cross-cultural understanding, relationships, and engagement among all YMCA staff and volunteers. We were introduced to an analytical framework through which we could explore, recognize, and honor the influence of cultural background on patterns of human behavior. The tools presented foster personal reflection on the impact of culture—our own and others. Rather than exhaustively describing selected cultural groups, we were encouraged to cultivate knowledge, dialogue, and interaction about culture in general.
I was very grateful that my supervisor encouraged me to attend the Cultural Lenses training because I met some really incredible and motivated individuals who are associated with the YMCA of Central Ohio. I enjoyed hearing about the work they do both within the Y and outside of it. I was impressed by the existence of the Global Leader Certification program and even more impressed by how committed the folks who attended and who ran the class are to making the Y an inclusive and comfortable space for everyone. The YMCA’s primary goal as an organization is to build and strengthen community, which cannot be effectively done without adapting to and accommodating the communities it serves. The Global Leader Certification program directly addresses this necessity, and quite aptly from my experience.