International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Same, Same - But Different: The Development of Cultural Humility through an International Volunteer Experience
Jean Schuldberg, Nicole S. Fox, Celesta A. Jones, Patty Hunter, Michele Bechard, Lenette Dornon, Stacey Gotler, Holly M. Shouse, Madison Stratton

Within the social work profession, respect and humility for cultural difference is paramount. Cultural competence in social work education curriculum focuses on increasing cross-cultural knowledge and practice skills. Cultural humility suggests that equity and social justice issues must be examined within and outside cultural experiences, and that in doing so this reflection will invite self -awareness and evaluation on how culture impacts practice. This study was designed to investigate the development of cultural humility of graduate social work (MSW) students through an international cultural experience in Bangkok, Thailand. It explored the benefits and challenges of a short term volunteer experience and the impact of this experience on students’ personal and professional development. Volunteer placements in social service settings provided students the opportunity to compare and contrast international social and community services with those offered in the United States. Post analysis of self-reflective journals suggested that short- term cultural immersion experiences may be an effective method for increasing cultural humility among student participants.

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