You Are Welcome Here
One of the most fascinating aspects of being human is that each and every one of us has a unique experience as we journey through life, AND, we have deep shared experience with others. How this happens is the subject of philosophy, metaphysics, religion, and biology. Defining culture is beyond the scope of this discussion, but I want to acknowledge here that one important aspect of culture is to help create shared understanding among groups of people. Some cultures we are born into, and others we join by choice. Regardless, culture sets norms, provides explanations, shapes our values and prescribes acceptable behaviors for fulfilling needs (to name a few).
As our individual experience is unique, we each belong to a unique conglomeration of different cultures (e.g. I am midwestern, middle aged, male, a musician, liberal, etc. each of which may overlap or not). Thus in so many ways, every encounter with another individual is “cross cultural”. Creating a safe space for someone to do the hard work of navigating challenging decisions requires awareness of culture and how it shapes our view of ourselves and of others. In particular we must be aware of the different levels of social power some cultural groups hold and how such power has been used (and is being used) to disenfranchise individuals from different cultural groups.
As you can see from my list of identities above, I have membership in many privileged cultural groups. If I add that I am white, heterosexual and highly educated I could hardly position myself more squarely in the “dominate” culture in the united states and much of the world. I have spent a good deal of energy in my adult life critically examining my cultural identities and how they position me in the world. Likewise, striving to understand the experience and position of other groups who are affected by my position and the influence of my culture. This on-going work has led me to strive to maintain humility, to be curious about learning about the strengths, challenges, and mysteries of folks from other cultures and to honor diversity for how it enriches the human experience.
Although I cannot promise that working with me will always lead to the outcome you arrive with, I can promise that I am dedicated to engaging you as a completely whole individual worthy of respect and compassion regardless of how different we may be as individuals and as social beings.