The Use of Convocation: For Exploring Multiculturalism

Article excerpt

The development of creative persons in the field of nursing has been identified as a major task for nurse leaders (1). A critical component in the development of creative nurses is the development of persons who are culturally sensitive, who recognize and respect cultural diversity (2). [paragraph] Nurses need a broad understanding of the impact of society, politics, and culture on the practice of professional nursing (3). We have been challenged to discover ways to explore diverse aspects of humanity that are not culturally bound (4). Through exposure to multiculturalism, we are helped to become sensitive to our own cultural biases and behaviors as well as to the lived experiences of those we serve.

Nursing faculty, faced with the need to identify creative ways to meet the challenge of exploring multiculturalism in education and professional development, may find convocation to be a valuable teaching strategy, especially when nursing is taught in a liberal arts framework. With convocation, speakers become the teachers of their specific cultures. By talking and interacting with the speaker, students have the opportunity to learn about literature, music, dance, storytelling, politics, religion, lifestyle, and views about health in cultures other than their own. They gain an understanding of the intellectual, political, moral, ethical, and spiritual dimensions of multiculturalism.

Our attempt to integrate a convocation program into nursing education included a dance program by members of the Cherokee nation. In preparation for the program, students were given a bibliography of suggested readings (5-7). The dances represented rituals symbolic of spiritual beliefs held by the the Cherokees. Recognizing that "[every] encounter with another human being is a cultural encounter" (2), the students then met in a classroom with a member of the Cherokee nation and their instructor. They were asked how the information presented in the program could be used in assessing, analyzing, and meeting the holistic needs of members of the Cherokee group.

The students demonstrated critical thinking and active learning through the exchange of information and the questions they asked. …