When I think about the kind of work that I do for CORE in centres, schools, clusters, as well as with other education partner agencies, I more often than not end up talking about culture. Initially, my role as Senior Advisor Pasifika focuses on Pasifika cultures in relation to raising the engagement and achievement of Pasifika learners in Aotearoa. Now this role has expanded to include multiculturalism.
What has helped me to explain how to go about doing this (the engagement and achievement part) has been by looking at multiculturalism as a lens, as a way of thinking about, discussing and understanding our connections with the rest of the world.
Having grown up in Auckland, I have always heard the term multiculturalism bandied about — by far the most multicultural city in Aotearoa. The all-girls high school I attended would proudly tout at the top of each school newsletter that “We are a multicultural school.” If the high school music groups were any indication of that claim, it quickly verified it — as we had girls from every colour hue under the sun, with as many different accents as you could imagine.
What has changed since then is how multiculturalism is now seen on a global scale, particularly with how we understand what it means to participate in the world as a global citizen and to be culturally intelligent.
Dyne, Ang, Koh (2009) discuss a framework called Cultural Intelligence, that originated in North America, and is widely used by corporate businesses as a way to connect with potential trade partners in the Asian market. This framework can also be applied in other fields or disciplines such as sociology and education. The basic premise is that, in order to obtain cultural intelligence, you must observe and follow four stages: