Transformative Growth in an International Experience through Cultural Humility
Keywords:transformative learning, international experience, cultural humility, disorienting dilemmas, critical assumptions, cultural competence, professional learning
AbstractAfter six years of experience in an international project with educators in the Dominican Republic team members critically reflect on assumptions about the cultural and transformative dynamics of the work. As Mezirow (2009) asserts, “the most personally significant transformations involve a critique of premises regarding the world and one’s self” (p.22). The experience details the work of faculty members at a US college of education and partner schools in the Dominican Republic (DR). The deep level of transformative learning was a humbling element especially for those who considered themselves the culturally relevant educational “experts.” This essay additionally examines the depth of the transformative process and the lessons learned as participants came to accept the realization that a more honest evaluation was needed to transform from deficit to asset thinking (Valencia, 2010). Four phases of transformation meaning making from an intercultural perspective are explored including disorienting dilemmas, critical assumptions, competence in relationships, and the reintegration of new perspectives (Mezirow, 2000). Experiences from other international projects will examine and compare the challenges of cultural competence and the impact of transformation on individuals. Through contemplative practice, critical reflection, and honest conversation about cultural capacity, transformative learning through cultural humility is recognized as the most significant area of growth.
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