arab culture

Using a Woman’s Touch in War

Posted on March 6, 2010. Filed under: arab culture, cross cultural communication, cross cultural conflict, Uncategorized, women | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The US military is using female marines in a culturally appropriate role in Afghanistan, giving war a woman’s touch.  As part of a military cultural experiment, female marine engagement teams will meet with Afghani women to build relationships and gather intelligence.  For many Afghani women it is prohibited or at least culturally inappropriate to speak with an man who is not your kin. Female marines offer a way around that.

Because they are women, these soldiers will have access to the local social network of information that is common among rural women. Male marines would never have access to this network.

Just as women in business have gone from using male models for communication and leadership to valuing and incorporating female models, ie. relationship-based, women in the military are now being valued for the unique skills and access their gender provides.

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What I just learned about Arabic

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: arab culture, language, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

I recently learned that the Arabic language was created through the deliverance of the Quran.  The language was created for the purpose of religion.

I have always said that language and culture are inseparable. In fact, all  CAL Learning programs are founded on that belief. If language and culture cannot be separated, and Arabic language was created for religious purposes, I would expect Arabic culture and language to be closely tied to religion.

One example of the connection between language and religion is the basic greeting. The Arabic greeting, as-salamu alaykum, which means “peace be upon you”, is from the Quran. The language comes from the religion.

Are you an Arabic speaker? Can you give other examples of the connection between Arabic language and religion?

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The culturally competent healthcare provider

Posted on March 17, 2009. Filed under: American culture, arab culture, Asian culture, cross cultural communication, diversity, Hatian culture, healthcare, hispanic culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Healthcare providers face multiple challenges when working with patients from different cultures. Unlike managers and employees who work with diverse coworkers and customers, healthcare providers interpretations and decisions impact the patient’s life and future.

I enjoy delivering culture training to healthcare workers. They usually “get it” and understand the importance the role culture plays in their interactions, as well as the idea that culture is more than  just ethnicity.

Still, I often hear the frustration healthcare workers encounter when providing services to members of other cultures. Even though they have the best intentions, they often don’t know how to address these differences.

Examples include:

1. Only immediate family were allowed to visit a patient in the hospital. About 12 members of an extended Hispanic family showed up, wanting to see the patient. When the provider said, “only immediate family” the response was, “We are immediate family!”  To them, the idea that a cousin or aunt is any less immediate was ridiculous.

2. A woman from Jordan was in consultation with a physician, her elder brother by her side. Before she would make any decisions or offer any responses, she would look at her brother, have a quick conversation in Arabic, and then the brother would provide the answer. The physician thought she could build a better relationship with the patient without the brother in the room. When she asked him to leave, the patient panicked and started to cry.

3.  An Hispanic patient brought her 3 children with her for her MRI, even though the healthcare provider explained that the testing would take about 1 hour, and the children could not be left unattended in the waiting room.

4. During intake at a psychiatric hospital, an Asian woman refuses to make eye contact with the healthcare provider. The provider isn’t sure if it’s cultural or related to a mental illness.

One workshop participant told a story that showed the importance of active listening, clarifying, summarizing and probing for more information. She said she was offering bereavement counseling for a Haitian woman who had just lost her 3-year-old daughter. In discussion, it came up that the woman did not attend her child’s funeral with the rest of the family. At first, the counselor was shocked at what she initially saw as a horrible thing for a parent to do. Without judging the Haitian woman, she engaged her in further discussion, only to learn that she was pregnant, and didn’t want to risk the life of her new baby by going into a cemetery. She was, by her cultural standard, being a caring and protective mother. A fact that only came out because the provider took the time to learn more.

 What cross cultural issues have you encountered in the healthcare system?

 

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The burqini, and other forms of women’s liberation

Posted on February 22, 2009. Filed under: arab culture, cross cultural, culture, women | Tags: , , , , , , |

Recently, I read about the  burqini and at first thought it was a joke.  To most western women, the idea of a burqa (the head to toe covering worn by some Muslim women) is seen as an oppressive prison. We read about women who are beaten for not wearing them in public, and only see them as a form of oppression.

When I visited the burquini website I found out that it is swimwear and sportswear for active Muslim women. And based on the testimonials, it is a new form of women’s liberation. Woman after woman wrote to say how they could now participate in sports and go swimming, while still maintaining the modesty required of their religion. “I don’t look like a fool in the water anymore, and I’m not weighed down by all the heavy wet clothes I used to wear,” wrote one happy customer.

Women from different cultures face different challenges. For these women, the burqini is a big step foward in being able to define themselves and actively participate in daily life.  We must be careful not to belittle desires of women whose cultures are different or contrary to our own. They themselves, must define their path.

burqini

                                                                                                           burqinis

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