by Carlie Derouin
Previous to coming to Puerto Rico, everyone in our group took the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) assessment. The IDI is an important tool used in many industries (in both the private and public sector) to think about intercultural competence and cross-cultural work. Our group used this assessment as a tool to facilitate discussions about our own cultural backgrounds and how those impact the work we are doing here in Puerto Rico.
The IDI assessment places individuals along the Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC), which consists of five stages: denial, polarization, minimization, acceptance, and adaptation. The assessment has been tested for validity and reliability across cultural groups, and has also been back-translated into 13 different languages (Hammer, 2012).
Our group used the discussion of the group assessment results profile to have a stimulating conversation around each other’s cultural backgrounds and identities, the definition of culture and what it encompasses, and the effect of our own cultures on the cross-cultural work in which we engage. This conversation was part of a larger course theme on the importance of culture in energy transition solutions. In addition to the IDI, our group is keeping reflection journals on what we are experiencing and learning as we investigate how the energy system in Puerto Rico was affected by Hurricane Maria and how it is changing now. A few of the questions we generated as a group to facilitate individual reflection include:
What are some of your core beliefs and how have they been culturally influenced? How would you describe your worldview?
To whom are you accountable in this work?
What surprises you about what you are experiencing here? What are some things that are a source of confusion?
Including the IDI as a tool to facilitate conversations on culture was an important pedagogical strategy in the course. There is a growing body of literature in the field of international education and intercultural competence (often in the context of study-abroad programming in higher education) that shows that immersion in cross-cultural interactions does not necessarily result in increased cultural competence. Instead, these studies often indicate that guided conversations and self-reflection are essential to increasing cultural competence. Thus, the reflection journals have also been an important part of this process. For me, writing daily has provided the space needed to both synthesize the energy policies and technologies we are learning about and also reflect on my role as a graduate student engaging with locals and their work in a region that recently experienced a traumatic disaster.
Hammer, M. R. (2012). The intercultural development inventory: A new frontier in assessment and development of intercultural competence. In M. Vande Berg, R. M. Paige, & K. H. Lou (Eds.), Student learning abroad (pp. 115–136). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.