Program: Multi-Cultural Workshops
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The Multi-Cultural Workshops bring together persons from all ethnic groups and walks of life. The format of the Workshops is specifically designed to create a non-threatening environment where participants can share/receive information that increases awareness and understanding of different ethnic groups and provides a forum for personal interaction through cultural sensitivity exercises. Objectives include:
2. When was the program created and why?
The Multi-Cultural Workshops were developed in 1993. Recent increases in ethnic tensions and conflicts across America indicated that proactive steps be taken to defuse negative actions and reactions. Additional consideration was given to the fact that many high profile racial incidents involved law enforcement personnel. The Community Outreach Division staff designed these workshops to include citizens from a cross-section of ethnic groups and cultures, heavily targeting law enforcement issues as topics for challenge.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
The effectiveness of the Multi-Cultural Workshops is apparent according to the evaluations of the participants. Mostly positive comments were given on the benefits received, while simultaneously requesting continued workshops promoting cultural awareness. These requests have come from citizens and law enforcement officials alike, many of whom were initially reluctant to attend.
4. How is the program financed?
The program is totally underwritten by the corporate and business community of Houston, Texas.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?
Each workshop involves 200 persons ethnically balanced from major ethnic groups, and seeks to obtain a cross-section of persons from five different areas of interest: business, education, religion, community and law enforcement. The workshops include lunch and networking opportunities for participants. Law enforcement officials from all Houston area agencies have participated in these workshops.
6. What are the major lessons learned that would be helpful for others trying to implement a similar program?
The major lessons learned from this program are: (1) Most individuals do not realize their lack of knowledge regarding other ethnic groups/cultures; (2) as knowledge increases, respect and understanding also increase; (3) positive interaction brings many positive benefits, such as establishing lines of communication and emphasizing common issues and concerns; (4) and fears and stereotyping of others are exposed.
7. What specific advice do you have for mayors interested in replicating a program such as yours?
Create concrete, sensitive and proactive programs that will help break down barriers of mistrust and fear.For more information, please contact:
Yvette Chargois, Assistant Director
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352