Dr. LaShawn Thompson participates in cultural competency training in Vicksburg

Dr. LaShawn Thompson, an assistant professor of psychology in Alcorn State University’s Department of Education and Psychology, participated in enhancing others’ awareness of other cultures.

Thompson engaged in cultural competency training in communities adjacent to Alcorn for the Vicksburg Parent and Child Center Friday, Oct. 7. Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes and policies that come together in a system, agency or among professionals and enable that system, agency or those professions to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.

The training, which was held for board members, directors, staff members and others, allows people to gain knowledge and skills to successfully work with groups that are culturally different. It also works against the tendency to promote your own understanding over others. It promotes learning the value of other cultures and groups of people through an acceptance of the importance of diversity.

Thompson longing to understand other cultures is what prompted her to get involved with the training.

“My interest in cultural groups, diversity and social justice, as well as the increased need for such training in our communities, are several reasons why I was inspired to begin cultural competency training,” said Thompson. “Basic human rights are being violated time and time again and it is simply because we refuse to have empathy for one another in this world. We do not have empathy because we refuse to value others as we do ourselves.”

Thompson said that one of the exercises in the training was an assessment of current competency levels. The group was allowed to use an assessment to assess their current levels of knowledge and skills. She said it also allowed them to see the areas that need improvement, both in their agency of work and with the populations they currently serve in the community.

“Cultural competency training is the first step to opening our eyes to our negative, intentional and sometimes unintentional behaviors towards one another. It teaches us that we are all important and cultural diversity is a positive aspect of every society that should be promoted.”

Thompson said that the training helps those to become aware of their tendencies to exclude people that are different from them through stereotyping, which ultimately leads to discrimination.

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