You know those movies where one white woman, with her clever wit and can-do attitude, gives a speech that miraculously changes the thousand-years plight of the featured minority group? That’s NOT Amy Narishkin.
While Amy shares the clever wit and can-do attitude with these fictionalized characters, Amy’s feet-on-the-ground, live-in-person experiences as a white woman seeking to gain Intercultural Competence has her listening, learning, collaborating and asking how she can help, instead of lecturing.
As every day challenges between the dominate (white) cultural and minority groups escalated and increased in frequency, Amy payed more and more attention to the details. When the tragedy of Ferguson unfolded she felt helpless and began seeking meaningful ways to make a positive impact. Stepping beyond academic and self-education on these topics, Amy sought more authentic, first-person experiential learning through collaboration:
“During this season of racial tension, it may just be easier to stay silent. But Pastor Sims and I have discovered it’s when we’re talking that barriers come down and compassion grows. That’s why we started Courageous Conversations, held each month, Sept-May at Word of Life Christian Church. See Photos of our crew! ”
In these sessions Amy grew not only her knowledge but her understanding and her humanity. Her PhD in Adult Education and three decades of helping people in classrooms, boardrooms, dining rooms and fellowship halls navigate productive discussions about new or challenging topics suddenly gained a laser focus on Intercultural Competence. A different animal from diversity training, which often minimizes differences and stunts an individuals’ self-worth and ability to build authentic relationships, Intercultural Competence allows for transparency, cultural self-understanding, and awareness of how we impact those around us.
Although, Amy’s Empowering Partners is a nascent business, it has interacted with many local CEOs, sparking productive racial reconciliation discussions and actions. The body of work has been especially impactful in helping whites recognize their unconscious bias and step into challenging conversations that lead to trust and innovation. For example, during a workshop series at a large local service provider, the class participants over the two months of training awoke to a whole new way of interacting with their retail customers and fellow associates. They learned the skills and gained heart for building bridges across previous cultural divides ranging from of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, religion, sometimes even from the operations to the marketing departments’ mindsets. The company’s leadership recognizes that this unique approach will lead to increased:
- Volunteer to participate, thus self-select (Engagement)
- Create authentic relationships by developing the skills and heart needed for connection (Education)
- Increase productivity by helping employees practice and experience belonging & safety (Action)
- Grow revenue because employees and customers experience trust and promote social accountability together (Mastery)
- Five Developmental Stages to Intercultural Competence at Work
- Inclusion is Putting Diversity to Work
- Do I Always Have to be Politically Correct?
- How to Have Conversation about a Topic No One Wants to Talk About
- How to Outsmart Unconscious Bias
- Intercultural Competence: Why Do I Need It?