cultural and religious sensitivity



Ethnocentrism is attributing what something in another's culture according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one's own culture. This can lead to thinking your way of doing things is better than another's way of doing something. We're trying to avoid is ethnocentrism, but it's natural.

For example, there are assumptions and values associated with time in most parts of the US such as: efficiency is important, respect and keeping things on schedule. That value may be different for a newly arrived family. In Afghan culture, relationship is more important and they may prioritize a relationship, which might cause them to be late to things. In Afghanistan, this is more socially acceptable.

When we think about our own culture, we don't like to be stereotyped, instead we want to be afforded generosity and not be put into a box. Therefore, we should afford that generosity to a culture that's different to us.




Sensitivity to other religious beliefs and practices is important because of the disempowering nature of the refugee journey and the amount of loss refugees have indured. Religion and traditions are something that they hold closely and we want to respect that.

Thinking about the current context of our country, we are living in a time where our leaders are making disparaging comments about specific communities. There are histories of misunderstanding, tension and conflict. At times, these have created breaches of trust between communities, and we don't want to add to this experience.

Instead, you have the opportunity to show a different reality. Your friendship with a family can build trust as well as send a message to the wider community of bridge building and friendship. We want to constantly work towards a common good and find ways to stand in solidarity with them.

Refugee families will probably want to get to know you, your beliefs, and values. Always let them lead in these kinds of conversations, especially when invited into a conversation about faith. Please make sure that the conversation is mutual and do not challenge or disparage their faith. Once you build relational trust, conversations about religion become an easy subject because this can be a shared value. Remember, you don't need to be an expert!