Pilot Intercultural Competency Program ends in success

Six UO graduate students recently completed the university’s first-ever Intercultural Competency Program, facilitated by the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, the Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management and the UO Center for Equity Promotion.

The program was funded by a two-year Graduate Innovations grant from the UO Graduate School.

All participants had to take prerequisite courses that focused on career building and professional development, as well as intercultural issues in the workplace and field research. Additionally, the six initial graduates had the opportunity to intern with organizations both in Eugene and overseas.

The internship requirement, along with the other academic components of the program, was intended to produce graduates who will be well-positioned to serve diverse populations in state and municipal governments and in the nonprofit and business world.

Starr Miller, a graduate student in the Department of International Studies, held an internship in Nicaragua with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health. Lindsay Pepper, also an international studies student, worked with the EduCARE organization in India.

“They all had unique experiences and ended up learning a lot,” said Eli Meyer, assistant director of the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies. “It was a powerful learning experience.”

The other graduates interned with organizations around the northwest: Lokyee Au, Patricia Toledo, Allison Brinkhorst and Daniel Platt completed their internships at the local and regional levels.

Au interned with the environmental activist association Beyond Toxics, while Toledo and Platt worked with Huerto de la Familia (The Family Garden) and Downtown Languages, respectively. Brinkhorst fulfilled her professional requirement by interning with Seattle-based Social Justice Fund NW.

Although the initial program has come to a close, Meyer said, similar programs are gaining momentum around campus as students and faculty learn of the pilot program’s success. With the professional workplace becoming increasingly diversity-oriented, the intercultural skills developed in the program are essential.

“We’re very interested in starting a certificate program in intercultural competency or dialogue, based on the ICP model,” he said. “I hope something like this can really get off the ground.”

—By Nathaniel Brown, Public Affairs Communications intern