Skip to main content

Can you make it without a community partner?

Serdar Mamedov, Extension educator

Very often in our work, we engage with communities from different ethnic backgrounds. This is exciting and yet for many of us might be a new learning experience. This experience might be promising, challenging, exciting, frustrating, easy-going, or even difficult. This is not an exhaustive list of adjectives we can use to describe our experiences when working with different communities. We all have our own descriptions. So, what are those skills, knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes that one should possess to successfully plan and develop culturally inclusive programs? Developing cross-cultural competencies are an integral part of our professional work and they can help us to successfully engage with communities from varying ethnic backgrounds. But I would argue that there are some other factors that can get in your way and cause you to fall short to achieve your desired results. To engage the community in a meaningful conversation or to ask the community to do something, you need someone you trust from the community. Having someone from the community on your side, who represents a respected and well-known face in the community can make a big difference to establish a trusted relationship between you and the community of interest.

Serdar Mamedov, Extension educator, standing in a group with community partners.
Serdar Mamedov, Extension educator, with community partners.

I am sure many of us do work directly with community members and establish partnerships with a range of community organizations. They help us to gain access to communities that we previously have not had access to. The important role of community partners in advancing Extension’s programs in the community cannot be overestimated. We definitely need community partners. However, what if your important and helpful community partner would say “Work only with me” or “I will abandon the project if you would work with him, her, or them.” What would you do? Can you say no and potentially compromise all efforts you have invested into the project? Can your community partners dictate who you should work with? Would you disrupt the relationship with your community partners even if they are the most influential, respected and familiar faces in the community?

I look forward to your suggestions and comments.
Print Friendly and PDF