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Cultural Diversity Training: Albemarle’s Latino Residents An Albemarle County Training By Linda Hemby October 20, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Cultural Diversity Training: Albemarle’s Latino Residents An Albemarle County Training By Linda Hemby October 20, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Cultural Diversity Training: Albemarle’s Latino Residents An Albemarle County Training By Linda Hemby October 20, 2009

2 What this training can do Introduce county staff to our area Latino population Provide an overview of barriers Latinos confront when interacting with county agencies Suggest some ways of enhancing customer service to Latinos Share local resources and myth busting facts

3 What this training can’t do Provide details In other words, this training is meant to be an introduction, a beginning, to generate thought and discussion about our local Latino population and how we can best serve them.

4 Why offer this training? To improve customer service: Latinos are an ever increasing population in the U.S., in Virginia and locally. To comply with federal laws (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and guidelines “Cultural sensitivity is a prerequisite to professional competence. This is not merely a fairness issue.” (Asa Hilliard, 1984)

5 Terminology Culture: values, assumptions and perceptions that are instilled early on in life and are expressed in the way we behave and interact. Diversity: all of the things that make us different from one another. Cultural sensitivity: valuing and learning from diversity and being willing and quick to adequately respond to differences. Cultural competence: ability to work effectively with individuals from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

6 Beware of generalizations! Hispanic vs Latino Not all Latinos are recent immigrants: Texas originally belonged to Mexico and many Mexican Americans in California and elsewhere have been in the U.S. for centuries.

7 Beware of generalizations! Not all Latinos are from Mexico: 18 Spanish speaking Latin American countries plus Brazil Innumerable other differences among Latinos: from historic, geographic, language, color & ethnicity, socio-economic class, education level, etc. to cuisine and reason for coming to the U.S.

8 Beware of generalizations! Acculturation differences: some don’t identify with the customs of their community of origin and don’t see themselves as Latino; many find it difficult to adapt to U.S. culture and remain strongly connected to the culture of their birth country; and others view themselves as bicultural (i.e., Mexican American), connected to values, traditions, and experiences of both countries

9 Latino Demographics - Nationwide 45.5 million Hispanics or 15% of the total population Only Mexico and Colombia have larger Hispanic populations Largest minority in 23 States (50% live in CA & TX) Origins: Mexicans (64%), Puerto Rica (10%), Cuban (3.5%), Salvadoran (3%) and Dominicans (2.7%) …

10 Latino Demographics - Nationwide 78%, ages 5 and older, speak a language other than English at home 24% speak English very well 88% of U.S. born adult children speak English Source: Pew Hispanic Center

11 Latino Demographics - Virginia One in 10 Virginians is foreign-born. The largest foreign-born populations are in Arlington and Alexandria (20% each), Harrisonburg (9%), and Charlottesville, Richmond, Virginia Beach and Winchester (6% each). In 2007, the top five countries of birth were El Salvador, Mexico, Korea, Philippines and India.

12 Latino Demographics - Virginia 481,500 Latinos Over half are Mexican; the rest are largely Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans Half are U.S. born citizens. 13% are naturalized citizens. The rest are living in the State with or without legal authorization. Around 85% of Virginia’s Latino children under 18 are U.S. born Source: UVA Weldon Cooper Center

13 Latino Demographics - Cville 5 – 6,000 Latinos reside in the greater Charlottesville/Albemarle area Mostly Mexicans, Salvadorans and Hondurans Enclaves: Fashion Square Mall area, large area in front of Albemarle High School (Peyton & Commonwealth, two trailer parks, etc.), Southwood, Esmont, Crozet, etc.

14 Latino Demographics - Cville Many newcomers (Hondurans, indigenous Mexicans) Higher level of undocumented adults Most children are U.S. born

15 Our Latino Population Socio-economic Commonalities Rural poor Limited or no experiences with modern conveniences (from plumbing and wash machines to bank accounts and birth control) legal and bureaucratic policy, processes and protocol agencies that provide benefits and services civil, human, and consumer rights

16 Our Latino Population Socio-economic Commonalities Illiteracy is high Adults have little knowledge of English Low acculturation, especially among adults

17 Our Latino Population Cultural Commonalities Family Centered (lifetime allegiance/loyalty, interdependence, collective good vs individualism, extended family includes friends)

18 Our Latino Population Cultural Commonalities Hierarchical society: respect for and/or fear of authority figures (age, social position, economic status, or the police and other government workers) Fear of “rocking the boat”: avoiding conflict even when there is a wrongdoing; not challenging or asking questions; not reporting discrimination and other injustices or crime (even more so with the undocumented)

19 Our Latino Population Cultural Commonalities Being personable and friendly: being polite, smiling and showing warmth and enthusiasm; direct personal contact vs letters and voicemails; close physical proximity vs being separated by a desk or security window; touching. Trust: being personable and over time, reaching a high level of comfort by showing respect and in other ways dispelling misconceptions.

20 Our Latino Population Cultural Commonalities Fatalism or when each day is taken as it comes little experience with the concept of punctuality or planning ahead Spirituality (based more on widespread cultural beliefs, including superstitions and folklore, than on affiliation with a particular religion)

21 Our Latino Population Cultural Commonalities Strong positive work values: pride, self-discipline, perseverance, grateful for having a job, loyalty Machismo, etc.

22 Our Latino Population Service Access Barriers Limited information and knowledge of services, where they are located, their policies, procedures, processes, and Clients’ rights to redress Being embarrassed about asking for help outside of the family (or church)

23 Our Latino Population Service Access Barriers Latinos lack of English fluency (to communicate or understand) Lack of bilingual/bicultural service providers Inconsistent or non-use of interpreter services

24 Our Latino Population Service Access Barriers Agency misunderstandings due to the lack of cultural awareness of service providers – as irresponsible – as not forthcoming – as understanding all or some of what is being said – who assume Clients are literate Misconceptions or anti-immigrant sentiments of service providers

25 Recommendations for Service Providers “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Mandela Be sensitive to whoever you are interacting with. Be aware of your own attitudes and how they may impact on service delivery.

26 Recommendations for Service Providers Be accessible: Show respect. Speak English slowly and clearly and don’t raise your voice. Don’t assume the Client understands you. If you do not speak fluent Spanish, use a bilingual co-worker or an interpreter service or other resource. Avoid using children to act as interpreters.

27 Recommendations for Service Providers Make time to learn about Latino culture to be more understanding and responsive to cultural idiosyncrasies. Encourage questions and make sure the Client understands. Make sure you understand.

28 Recommendations for Service Providers Build trust: Be warm and personable rather than distant and formal. Be attentive and take time to listen. Show respect.

29 Recommendations for Service Providers Explain, in a clear and concise way, agency policies, procedures, processes, and Clients’ rights. Learn and use a few Spanish words. And in other ways, show you care and really do want to help.

30 Recommendations for County Agencies Learn about and develop mechanisms to comply with LEP federal policy and guidelines Develop LEP guidelines for your staff, along with monitoring procedures and sanctions to ensure their compliance.

31 Recommendations for County Agencies Develop culturally sensitive informative written materials (i.e., minimal text) Use Spanish language forms and other documents Offer a bilingual telephone service Include bilingual and bicultural skills as a hiring preference.

32 Recommendations for County Agencies Encourage and/or provide ongoing cultural sensitivity trainings, including attendance at Creciendo Juntos (CJ) and other Latino oriented venues and reviews and discussions of information on the CJ website (

33 Recommendations for County Agencies – Word of Caution “In order for a person to be bicultural and operate as a liaison between cultures, it is not sufficient for him or her to be from an ethnic minority. In fact, if a person who looks like a member of an ethnic minority group has adopted Anglo American values and identifies with the mainstream culture, he or she may be a poor choice to represent their culture of origin in collaborative efforts.” Source: Toolkit for Cross-Cultural Collaboration, Chapter I

34 Trainer Linda Hemby is a sociologist and human rights activist. She has dual nationality (U.S./El Salvador), is bilingual and bicultural. She lived in El Salvador for 20+ years, visits each year for a month, and plans on returning there to live. She works at Social Services and is a member of the CJ Executive Committee. Linda can be reached at

35 References This power point presentation, as well as a handout provided during the training – which identifies online and other resources for myth busting fact sheets and local resources for Latinos – is available on the CJ website at

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