What is it? There is a wide variety of cultural awareness programming. All efforts share the goal of strengthening cross-cultural connections, capabilities, and understanding. Some programs share information about the heritage of different racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. Information sharing activities may include speakers, presentations, discussions, meal sharing, festivals, films, art events, and more. A common goal is to expose more people to a culture different than their own, and to raise the awareness about people of that culture who reside in the local area. Minority cultures may be less visible, misunderstood and even shunned by the larger population. Cultural awareness programming may help break down barriers and overcome the fear that comes from misunderstanding.
How has it been used? Midland, Michigan has been home to the Midland Area Community Foundation since 1973. As the regional demographics shifted, the organization decided to help increase cultural awareness in the area and created a committee dedicated to that purpose. The committee seeks to create better understanding, appreciation and respect for all cultures. To forward this mission, the Foundation has held a number of events, and established a speakers bureau of people willing to share information on different cultures. In 2012, the commitee joined with the local government and public library to name October as Cultural Awareness Month in Midland. During the month, partners worked together to organize programs designed to strengthen cultural awareness, including a film series, art exhibition, and an international food festival. (Source: Midland Area Community Foundation)