To become a multicultural leader, there are two words, assimilation and acculturation, which require understanding and analysis of their impact on current social outcomes. To assimilate means to remove the cultural, national, and ethnic differences of ones previous habits of daily life in order to become part of a new culture. The American melting pot created cultural uniformity by requiring immigrants to blend into their new surroundings with as few distinguishing characteristics as possible. Assimilation fed ethnocentricity, which bred cultural insensitivity and a predisposition to impose our values on others (Bordas, 2007, p. 186). Acculturation, on the other hand, embraces cultures of the previous time and the new location, while supporting a flexible adaptation that allows immigrants to cross-over by retaining their cultural pride and heritage. Having the anchor of familiarity along with valued previous experiences creates a type of confidence that enables someone to find a home in a new and unfamiliar life. The range of behaviors between assimilation and acculturation is a continuum. Understanding the difference in behaviors along the continuum allows people to be more intentional when learning and expanding their multicultural capacity.
The assessment in Table 12.1 will give you a snapshot of your multicultural capacity on the continuum of assimilation and acculturation.
After completing the: Diagnosis Assimilation and Acculturation task in this unit, respond to the following questions:
What did you learn from this exercise?
Did you discover you have certain assimilation or acculturation expectations?
Did this exercise help you generate ideas as to how you could increase your acculturation experience?
What does the overall class results tell you?