I enjoy teaching. I have always believed that teaching is my calling. In the last few years, I have discovered the joy of teaching outside the classroom, through participating in community events and giving talks, particularly on cultural issues relating to Africans and Americans.
I speak to various gatherings and individuals, and the circle of my connections is growing all the time. Each invitation to speak gives me a chance to harness my knowledge and direct it to the needs of that particular occasion. Each invitation is a new challenge, which, nevertheless, I always welcome as an opportunity.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak at the Faribault Correctional Facility. I am a member of the board of the Faribault Diversity Coalition, and I regularly talk about the differences between African and American culture. Faribault, like many other cities across the USA, is dealing with an influx of immigrants and refugees from such places as Somalia, Sudan, and Central America. Inevitably, numerous cultural issues crop up.
So, on February 26, I went to the Faribault Correctional Facility. The conference room was full of officers, staff, and other people. I started by outlining my view of the importance of understanding cultural differences, not only in order to broaden our knowledge of other cultures but also for our own survival and success in a world which is becoming increasingly interconnected--the proverbial global village.
I then dwelt on specific cultural issues that relate to law enforcement in a town such as Faribault. As a member of the Faribault Diversity Coalition, I am aware of the cultural issues facing that city. I find it easy to talk about the differences between African and American culture. I simply draw from my book and other writings.
The most interesting challenge, in my view, is how a law enforcement officer should deal with people who, acting in ways that are appropriate from their cultural standpoint, unwittingly end up violating American laws. I stressed the need for education. Newcomers should learn and follow the laws of the customs of the host country. Law enforcement personnel should also study the values of the newcomers, in order to have an accurate view of why they communicate, think, feel, act and behave the way they do. That, I argued, will save everyone from a lot of frustration, bad feelings, stress and other problems.