One of the main things which I focus on, for myself and with our students, is what you might call “intercultural” growth, which I would define as having to do with understanding culture and the process of growing to understand and relate effectively to people of other cultures.
A tool for understanding such growth is the “Intercultural Development Inventory” (the IDC), which I have written about previously (it used to be called the “Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity”). (See https://idiinventory.com/products/the-intercultural-development-continuum-idc/ for a diagram of the IDC.)
The spectrum of how we experience cultural difference runs from Denial (lack of awareness of cultural difference, and pulling back from it) to Polarization (reaction against difference, with one culture being “right” and “good” and the other being “wrong” and “bad,” less human, strange, incomprehensible, etc.; the two variations are Defense, where my culture is right and good and the other is wrong, etc., and Reversal, where I am more critical of my own culture and people, and committed to another culture) to Minimization (glossing over differences, focusing more on human similarity) to Acceptance (being open to difference and curious about it, basically accepting others in their difference rather than pushing them to be like me or evaluating them from the perspective of me) and finally to Adaptation (cognitive – developing the ability to shift perspective, seeing things from the point of view of the other – and behavioral – learning to adapt to the life patterns of the other cultural context). (The Intercultural Development Inventory is the inventory/instrument which places a person on the IDC; see https://idiinventory.com/.)
A central question is, how do we grow as the kind of people who see and respond positively to difference / to different others, who have the ability to enter into their contexts without fear, without polarizing (attacking or pulling back), without glossing over difference – taking people seriously as they are, embracing them in their common but differently expressed humanity?
This is one of the main questions (or cluster of questions) of my life, and of our work with our MESP students, and will be a topic of further reflection… J