Consider cross-cultural issues related to working with survivors of disasters.

On January 17, 1989, a gunman opened fire on the Cleveland Elementary School playground in Stockton, California, killing five children and wounding 30. Many of the students were children of Cambodian immigrants, and crisis workers soon discovered that established crisis intervention strategies did not fit well with the patriarchal structure of the Southeast Asian families. For example, it was not a cultural norm to talk openly about trauma and associated emotions. As a result, crisis workers adapted their crisis intervention approach by consulting with a Cambodian social worker and community leaders who were familiar with the culture.

Before responding to disasters, crises, and traumas, crisis workers must first consider the cultures of the impacted populations. Then, crisis workers must use such information to choose crisis intervention strategies and approaches that are culturally appropriate.

To prepare for this Discussion:

Think about areas of cultural diversity that might impact the applicability and effectiveness of crisis interventions.
Consider cross-cultural issues related to working with survivors of disasters.
Identify a disaster, crisis, or trauma with which you are familiar and think about the population(s) affected by the event.
Note: Do not use Hurricane Katrina as an example (the assignment in Week 6 focuses on Hurricane Katrina).

Reflect on how aspects of the survivors’ culture might impact the effectiveness of the help offered and the willingness of survivors to accept the help.
Think about cultural competencies you might use to respond to the survivors of the disaster, crisis, or trauma you identified.

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