Over the summer, I had the opportunity to attend a 3-day Cultural Proficiency Institute with 4 colleagues. It was an enlightening experience both professionally and personally. And the line that stuck with me the most was something one of our administrators said: “You have to meet people where they are, not where you want them to be.”
A mantra, so to speak, of the idea of cultural proficiency is that it’s a never-ending journey. We’re always striving to better understand the vast variety of people that we encounter in our lives. When we come across people along the way who may appear to be reluctant to join us on the quest, we have to be careful not to impose on them our own notions of who they should be.
For me, this is complicated. It’s difficult for me to wrap my brain around the concept that people exist who dismiss others simply because of their gender, the color of their skin, or any number of things that are often out of their control. I have high expectations of human beings, which often leads to frequent disappointments. I’m trying to embrace the challenge of learning to meet them where they are, and I hope they see me as I am. And I hope what they see is kindness and acceptance, and maybe they’ll decide that it’s time to remove the obstacles and continue the journey to better understanding.