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Introduction

In the social work profession it is very evident that there is a lot of getting to know clients
and being culturally aware of the diverse populations that are being worked with. Although this
is important, it is also important to remember as a social worker that there must be cultural
awareness within ones self. There are many steps that can be taken to look at ways to become
socially aware, and the book Culturally Competent Practice (Lum) lays out a great approach to
gaining such knowledge. The steps taken will be displayed throughout the paper, and the end
result will hopefully be a greater awareness of ones culture and its effects. The social work
student hopes to gain a greater understanding and grasp of herself so that she may fully be able to
assist her clients in the best way possible.
Positionality/Multiple Identities
Positionality is a very diverse topic and has many different components to it. It is the
continuous discovery and rediscovery of your place in life and how you want to position yourself
in relation to self and significant others. (Lum, p.139) Positionality is past, present, and future in
the walk of life. Throughout the course of life, there have been many events and experiences that
have happened and resulted in molding life into what it is today Who am I? Reflecting over that
question seems daunting, simply because it is far easier to talk about others lives. The
challenging part is really grasping what events have impacted our own lives thus far. Why did
you choose to become a social worker? Where are you in your life? Where have you come from
and where do you see yourself going? (Lum) Starting from the beginning, the social work
student was born and raised in Georgia in a wonderful home with two parents and an older sister.
Life was pretty easy for her for the first couple of years, especially since these years are the ones
that cannot really be remembered. Growing up in a Christian home, with two parents who had
strong faith in the Lord, and a sister who was gradually growing into a Godly woman, made
following Jesus very compelling. A little while after accepting Jesus, a huge event threw our
country in turmoil; September 11th, 2001. Not only did it put the country in a panic, but it would
also throw the students life for a loop, too. It was hard for a third grader to really comprehend
what was going on, which caused a lot of distress. It began with being scared, and turned into a
whole lot more. She began to get separation anxiety from her mom, meaning being separated
from her at all caused stress and anxiety to heighten. School became difficult, because the
terrorist attacks had happened during school hours, which caused anxiety thinking that
something would happen again during that time while not being with her mom.
Soon after, it was not just school that caused stress, but also being separated from my mom
during the night. Sleeping in separate rooms became impossible, and this started the two and a
half year journey of sleeping on the floor of her mom and dads room. Therapy sessions became
a regular thing during her sixth grade year, which was somewhat embarrassing for a new middle
school student. However, this was a great way to talk about anxieties, write down prayers, and
help get life back to normal. Therapy was a huge struggle to understand at a young age, yet it
was one of the most significant times. September 11th was not the only date that significantly
changed the course of her life. July 6th, 2011 threw life up in the air quicker than anything she
had ever known. On this day the students dad, Chuck, was diagnosed with leukemia and
admitted into Emory hospital to begin immediate chemo treatments. After three months, he was
said to be in remission, and over the next coming months he did his last rounds of chemotherapy
treatments. Not too long after being diagnosed, her father was said to be in remission, and to this

day he is healthy as can be! Many people, including the student at one point in life, seem to think
that once the cancer patient is in remission the fight is over.
Unfortunately that is not the case. The student watched for months of her dad being very
sick from ongoing chemo to make sure the cancer did not return. Seeing her dad this way started
to take a toll on her. This time was difficult; however God makes beautiful things out of
situations that seem so ugly. Her dad having cancer was not definitely not the best time, however
this event showed evidence that God is real, and that He is there to comfort us, love us, and give
us hope. Her relationship with the Lord has had its ups and downs, but it can truly be said from
this time that His presence was felt, and there is no doubt that He is real and working in each of
us.
The social worker has always had a love for people and has a lot of empathy and
compassion towards others. She tends to be very hyper aware of the feelings of those around her,
and utilizes that in ways that make others feel cared for. All of the events and situations that have
happened in her life have helped lead her to the major of social work, however, one of the time
in her life that stood out to her was when she went to therapy. Looking back to those moments
and thinking about how she talked with someone who helped to eliminate some of her separation
anxiety really showed her that individual therapy can be a wonderful thing, and that in the end
everyone needs a little bit of therapy!
Dilemmas of Americanization
For the social worker growing up in America for twenty-one years, and having parents
and grandparents who have lived in America for a very long time, it would be foolish to say that
there isn't anything but American culture in her. However, it has been a blessing for her to grow
up in a family who is very interested and open to new cultures and customs. She grew up in a
predominantly white neighborhood, but went to a school that was very diverse in the cultures
represented. While she was in school, she always tended to gravitate towards friends of different
races and cultures. This did not only happen in elementary school, but continued on through
middle and high school. Many of her friends that came over to hang out were treated like family
by her parents. The social work student grew up in a Christian home, however, she was aware
and respectful of other religions. When she entered high school she really began to appreciate
other cultures, and would ask her friends about what their life was like growing up in the culture
they were in. She even got the opportunity to go on missions trips to Nicaragua, and there she
saw that the more often the went, the more they would make them American food and not
Nicaraguan food. Slowly, she became more aware of how much different cultures are lost within
American , because they begin to get Americanized.
Family Culture
The social work students mother and father were both from the north, however before
she was born they moved to the south and have stayed here ever since. Her mother and father
were both raised Methodist, and to this day they attend a Methodist church. The student has lived
in the same house her entire life, so she has never been cultured shocked in moving to a whole
new place. She attended a community college right by her house for the first two and a half years
of school, however, when she transferred to Georgia State it definitely was a huge change. It was
difficult for her to make new friends and get accustomed to going to school right in the middle of
Atlanta, especially when she had been at a little school in the outskirts of Atlanta in
Lawrenceville. She is not very good in dealing with change, so she had to slowly learn ways to

calm herself down and take it a step at a time. Now, she feel comfortable at Georgia State, and
has made so many friends. Sometimes difficult situations are best overcome when you face them
head on.
Cultural Awareness of other Inventory
Cultural awareness of other inventory can be described as how much awareness there is
of other cultures other than the one you were born into. Many times it is easy to get caught up
with the culture that is known to each individual person that becoming knowledgeable about
other cultures seems to be put on the back burner. However, looking deeply it is shown that
many know little about the culture that they came from and grew up in. Growing up in a family
born and raised in the United States seemed to be all that was known to the social worker.
However, all throughout her life, especially in middle and high school, most of her friends were
of different races than her own. This assisted in her seeking to understand different cultures, and
she even got to immerse in some of their customs. Another aspect of the social work students life
that helped with cultural awareness was that both of her parents were very involved with other
cultures, and they encouraged her and her sister to get out there and try new things!

Intersectionality
Intersectionality is simply the crossroads in our lives and the many groups, both external
and internal, that we associate with and that sometimes overlap. These crossroads and groups can
be a great thing, all coming together to make the person we are, but those groups can also be
used as a bad thing should someone choose to discriminate against them. The social work student
identifies with many different groups. She is a caucasian woman who speaks English, she is tall
with an average weight, wears normal clothes yet has many piercings, and is middle class.
These groups in her life are external intersections, meaning that they are visible to those around
her. She has never felt discriminated against for being in any of the groups mentioned above,
however she has felt very self-conscious of her weight and height.
The student not only has external groups, but also internal groups. The student is Christian, she
part of the American culture, she is single and heterosexual, and she has gotten her high school
diploma and attended four years of college thus far. These are just a few of the internal groups,
meaning that someone would not be able to necessarily always tell that you are a part of the
groups by just looking at you. However, the student feels that especially with her spirituality and
faith, people should be able to see her beliefs in the ways she acts and the things that she says!
Conclusion
Many factors make up each individuals cultural awareness, and can affect each life differently. It
is important especially as social workers to know culture around you as well as within yourself.
An article states, Reflective practice was shown to nurture positive changes and build
professional stamina for longtime practitioners (McMullen, 2001). There is a strong desire to
truly understand cultures and people, so that they may be able to get the best help possible.
Looking at cultural awareness is a great way to see where you are in terms of awareness not only
of other cultures, but even of the culture you grew up in. The hope in all of this is to keep making
strides in the right direction in understanding and embracing other cultures and ways of life! This
will undoubtedly be a huge part in social work practice, and a great tool for life in general.