Hello Readers! I keep thinking to write here but it never got done until now. I would like to take this time to explain in brief detail what occurred during session three of summer semester. However, under the registration for classes, it classified this course as session two instead of session three. But the course sequence list I was given at the beginning of the program entitles this as a session three class. And Mikhaile (the Graduate Enrollment Counselor who could answer general questions concerning the counseling program) had even mentioned to me, around the time of signing up for classes, that it was taught during session three. This is why I put “(?)” in the title of this post.
Any way you look at it, I took the class (Multicultural Issues in Counseling) and it is over with! :D This was a “heavy” class because of the short time limit (only four weeks) and also personal issues students were having within the course objectives. Hmm… What all to share that wasn’t personal enough to place on the Internet?
The first day of class included a list of what us students and professor would do to refrain from belittling a culture: down puts were to be avoided as well as similar derogatory acts or behaviors. The idea was a good one and, to be honest, I believed we all tried to walk on egg shells when the cultures of classmates and professor was the topic of the day. However, when it came to the Arab descents, people were not too careful. It hurt to hear some things that were said about the group but I won’t say nothing more on the matter.
What I had liked about the textbook, Developing Multicultural Counseling Competence, is how honest it is. There is about twenty different authors which contributed to the textbook but two editors took the credit in regarding which authors to label within citing the textbook. I admired their presentation of each culture, especially the American culture (the chapter is called “Individuals and Families of European Descent”). According to Dr. Freeman, this exact chapter was the reason why this textbook became the one we used for class. In the past, multicultural textbooks failed to present European Americans (or, as the textbook say is more politically correct, White Americans) because the majority of people that went into the field I am entering in was once White Americans. When we looked around the classroom, we only saw two White Americans out of 12 (was it 12 in our class?) classmates.
Back to my original point: The American Dream. According to Hays and Erford, this “dream” is the manifestation of the cultural values of White Americans, stating that America is considered the “utopia” of the world (2014). As many of the readers know, the common belief held in America is that anyone can grow up and be whatever they desire to be: own a business, be a star, etc. This is an example of what the textbook called meritocracy: an individual’s success is based on his or her abilities, personal skills, and work ethic instead of external factors (Hays and Erford, 2014). However, as minority groups have experienced, this is far from the truth. Even though this is an impossibility, many White Americans believe in this “false advertisement” and, therefore, often blame minority groups for failing to push hard enough to achieve their goals.
What I just said right there caused the classroom to feel tense to me. I might be wrong but that’s how it felt for me. It’s been a personal battle on this subject alone. But I won’t go into detail. Instead, I will explain the other end of this pendulum: playing the victim.
The idea of playing the victim was brought up in class. I’m so glad it was brought forth because it is true. One of my classmates mentioned how he noticed many African American males who had this concept that the world was against them and there was hardly anything they could do in a career but entertainment. He heard this a lot while he was a police officer. I feel safe to say this because I am an African American. So, please don’t respond that I am not in a position to agree with this ex police officer. :/
What I had learned from this course is that a competent multicultural counselor would do well to gain awareness of how he or she views cultures; knowledge in diverse cultures; and gain skills to work with clients or patients of different cultures. Another thing I learned is that a multicultural counseling experience can still occur even if the counselor and the client/patient is of the same culture. This is when the concept of worldview comes to mind. One example is spiritual diversity. If two people attend the same church and have come from the same culture, one may be experiencing a different spiritual experience than the other.
I can write about this course for a long time but I realized I’ve been writing for almost 30 minutes so I will stop. If I make this blog entry too long, people won’t want to read it. :P I have learned a lot from this course. I just wished it was done during the fall or winter semester (when we have about 12 weeks instead of 4 weeks to master the course objectives).
I’m so proud of my fellow classmates for going through this journey with me. Dr. Freeman said that one’s cultural identity development is a journey and everyone is one different levels and different models. The class itself was a journey in which I believe every single classmate has changed for the better because of this course.