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Reflections on Embracing A Multicultural Environment, Making Afterschool Cool Podcast Episode 37 - 10/28/2020
Posted by HCDE Staff on 11/20/2020
Multiculturalism is one of those terms which defines itself based on the component of the word. Simply put, it means the intersection of multiple lifestyles, backgrounds, and heritage. Likewise, my guest on episode 37 of the Making After School Cool podcast, Roberto Germán, is a person of many cultures. On the surface, he may appear as an African American male. But he is so much more than that. He is a man of Dominican descent, with a Spanish name, hair styled in-locks and a distinct East Coast dialect. While speaking to Roberto about multiculturalism, I soon discovered it was like talking to Webster about the dictionary. This topic is not only something he is versed in but also his passion and a significant part of his life. It’s also evident in his life’s work. Roberto is an educator, consultant, and co-creator of the multicultural classroom.
With the great diversity in our country and state, the need for creating a welcoming learning environment for all has never been greater. This is evident as we face a national call for equality, equity, and social justice. I recognized the need for an episode concerning these sensitive issues and was fortunate to located Roberto Germán. After a brief preliminary conversation with Roberto, I knew he would be the perfect person to discuss creating a multicultural environment in after school programs.
The ability to accept everyone, no matter their background, is essential for anyone working in the out-of-school time field. However, in my experience with afterschool, spanning a career of over 25 years in the Houston area, this topic is seldom discussed. Roberto explained how he schedules ongoing Anti-Bias Anti-Racist (ABAR) meetings to ensure his team has ongoing discussions regarding multicultural issues. He stressed, “everybody has to be committed and buy-in.” The ABAR meetings are a series of training about handling problems that occur in a diverse setting. They are offered in short chunks, so no one is overwhelmed with the topics being discussed. During the ABAR meeting, time is always reserved for staff questions and feedback. German has found this to be an effective method.
The world no longer operates in silos of them and us. It’s we, a group of people with all kinds of differences working together. To truly reach and teach in afterschool, we must create environments that are welcoming to all. Sessions such as ABAR meetings might be the first step in getting us there. Tune in to Episode 37 (Embracing a Multicultural Sensitive Environment) on the Making Afterschool Cool podcast at podbean.com.
Michael Wilson is currently the Outreach Coordinator for Harris County Department of Education, CASE Program and host the Making After School Cool podcast. For over 25 years he has worked extensively to design and implement programs intended to make the educational experience for students and their families a positive one.
Roberto Germán is the cofounder of the Multicultural Classroom an endeavor aimed to address the national issue of effectively teaching in multicultural and multilingual classrooms and communities. He and his wife Lorena are activists, educators, writers, speakers, trainers, and parents. Throughout the years, they have used their creative talents to create and inspire cultural diversity in communities across the State.