Growth and Humility

Critical Reflection #3

What? I think the most important shared themes between each one of the stories are that of learning and humility. Cheryl Hyde writes in the article Challenging Ourselves that “Time, patience, and humility are essential ingredients in this process.” Humility is essential because we need to be aware that we are not experts; every day is an opportunity for our continued growth. In the article Accompaniment as Policy, Paul Farmer writes “It’s easy to be dismissive of accompaniment in a world in which arcane expertise is advanced as the answer to every problem. But expertise alone will not solve the difficult problems.” There is no cookie cutter approach to community action or social change. We engage with real people and we must see them as that. We must be willing the listen with the intent to learn in order to understand the best ways to service our communities. In the article written Melanie Tervalon and Jann Murray-Garcia they discuss how a nurse’s training led her to believe she knew what was culturally acceptable for a patient; she completely ignored the guidance offered by the physician whose cultural background was similar to the patient. “The equating of cultural competence with simply having completed a past series of training sessions is an inadequate and potentially harmful model of professional development”. (Tervalon and Murray-Garcia)

So What? The importance of critical self-reflection is the awareness of oneself. Again, we cannot assume that we are experts and that we know how to solve the problems of the communities that we work in. We have to take a moment to check in with ourselves to see if what we are doing is really serving the community, or are we being self-serving and trying to satisfy our own personal agenda. Self-reflections tools only work when “the individual pushes him- or herself to honestly complete them and then when a group debriefing can support further exploration and exchange of ideas.” (Hyde 429) When asked what creates ethical loneliness, Staufer reply was “Well, it’s a failure of hearing”, we often do not hear what is being said; we are not actively listening to what is being said. We do not take the time to understand. We go with whatever idea that is the most comfortable for us without stepping outside of our comfort zone.

Now What? The article that resonates the most with me is Challenging Ourselves by Cheryl A. Hyde. My first assignment with my service partner involved me assisting with an ESL class. Although I was excited about the opportunity, I was also nervous. I kept thinking that I would need to be able to speak Spanish to really be of any assistance. Even though the staff that I meet with from Canal Alliance told me that speaking Spanish was not necessary, I couldn’t get past the idea that it would be more helpful if I could speak Spanish. I had to force myself out of my own comfort zone and go into my volunteer assignment with an open mind. I am glad that I did. My first experience was probably the most engaging and fun assignments that I have experience involving community engagement. It took for me to actually be involved to realize that my Spanish language skills held no relevance to the assignment. I was there because the students wanted to learn English, and I was someone that they could practice with.