Cultural Competence


As members of the Auburn Family, our responsibility is to respect one another’s differences and be aware that we are made up of many different kinds of people that come from different backgrounds. Teaching cultural competence is a major component of creating and maintaining a healthy campus community.

Cultural competence is the ability to interact effectively with members of other cultures. This can sometimes be a challenge, because the way we view the world and other people around us depends on our own personal reality created by our culture. Often, we mistake the words and actions of people from other cultures as rude, abnormal, or out of place, when in actuality, their words and actions are perfectly polite, normal, and timely in their culture.

Being culturally competent means accepting the notion that just because someone’s customs are different than yours does not mean that they are weird or abnormal. Here are four characteristics of culturally competent people that can guide you to become more culturally competent:

  • Have an awareness of your own cultural worldview: keep track of your personal reactions to people who look or behave differently from you, and know your own tendency to stereotype them.
  • Attitude towards cultural differences: adjust your attitude towards others of different cultures if you tend to look down on them or think them less worthy because of their culture.
  • Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews: educate yourself about others’ cultures and customs. Befriend and ask questions of international students on campus and attend international events on campus.
  • Develop cross-cultural skills: be aware of how you verbally and non-verbally communicate with people of other cultures, and learn how to effectively communicate with many different kinds of people.

Below is a list of resources that provides more information on cultural competence and how to work on your cross-cultural communication skills.

Last Updated: 6/13/2011