CORE offers several interactive, self-paced courses that are designed for resettlement and volunteers that implement and deliver Cultural Orientation. Learners may take courses at any time and in any order. Courses are free and can be accessed at any time.
Cultural Orientation Basics
Refugees resettled in the United States receive Cultural Orientation to acquire vital knowledge, skills, and
attitudes needed to adapt to their new lives and achieve self-sufficiency. The topics covered in Cultural
Orientation are outlined in established objectives and indicators. Overseas, Cultural Orientation is conducted
at the Resettlement Support Centers. In the U.S., Cultural Orientation continues with a local Resettlement
To learn more, visit the About Cultural Orientation page and complete the Cultural Orientation Defined
Keys to Effective Cultural Orientation
Discover key concepts that contribute to the delivery of effective Cultural Orientation. To discover more in-depth information, register for and complete CORE’s online courses.
Our brains are not capable of absorbing massive amounts of information at one time. When more information is presented than can be processed, cognitive overload occurs and nothing more will be retained.
As Cultural Orientation providers, this is important to remember because you have a large amount of important information to convey to learners. However, given the length and complexity of the refugee resettlement journey, learners can be overwhelmed at times. They also have many different goals and concerns competing for their attention.
There are six adult learning principles that are critical to take into account when delivering Cultural Orientation:
- Adults are internally motivated and self-directed.
- Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to learning.
- Adults are goal-oriented
- Adults are relevancy-oriented
- Adults are practical
- Adult learners like to be respected
Applying these principles will facilitate Cultural Orientation that engages participants and contributes to their retention of key messages.
Learn More: Complete the Adult Learning Principles in Cultural Orientation course or review the Six Principles of Adult Learning Poster.
Classrooms have traditionally been teacher-centered, giving the teacher an active role while students take a more passive and receptive role. In contrast, student-centered learning shifts the focus of instruction from the teacher to the student, giving learners more responsibility for their own learning.
When applying student-centered learning techniques, Cultural Orientation providers should not consider themselves the definitive authority on all Cultural Orientation content, but rather a facilitator that encourages learners to take an active role in their own learning.
Learn More: Complete the Student-Centered Learning vs. Teacher-Centered Learning course or review the Student-Centered Learning Poster.
Learners feel more invested in learning Cultural Orientation content in a positive learning environment. There are four interconnected principles that contribute to creating a positive learning environment:
- Establish clear expectations for the Cultural Orientation session
- Promote participation
- Empower learners
- Establish trust
These principles support each other. For example, setting clear expectations can empower learners to participate more, as well as increase your learners’ trust in you as a competent Cultural Orientation professional.
A strengths-based approach refers to any policies, practice methods, and strategies that identify, and draw upon the strengths and capacities of individuals and communities. This is in contrast to the more typical approach of “deficit thinking.” Deficit thinking centers on shortcomings and failures, instead of strengths and capabilities. You should not only try to take a strengths-based approach to your learners and their culture, but also to yourself as a Cultural Orientation Provider, and to the broader community beyond your organization.
Onboarding Tips for New Cultural Orientation Providers
Ensure that your learning does not stop with the completion of lessons in CORE’s Online Courses. Develop skills discussed in these lessons through application and practice in the delivery of CO and, as applicable, other tasks at work. For example, identify new ways to incorporate student-centered learning concepts into your CO session and then implement those techniques. Part of skill development includes communicating and working collaboratively with your supervisor and other staff, as appropriate. Therefore, when you deliver a new technique, consider inviting others to observe or ask them to provide guidance based on their own experiences.
It is important to demonstrate patience not only with yourself, but also with your learners. For example, during CO delivery a lesson may not always work as planned. Perhaps certain activities have worked with one group of learners, but not the next. Remember, these things are a natural part of the learning process. Be observant and proactive in identifying actions for future improvement.
In addition to patience, flexibility is a critical quality for a CO provider. Have alternative plans so you can change them as necessary in the moment. Acknowledge that even the best planned CO session may not go as envisioned. The ability to shift during a CO session is something that may not come easily at first, but this will change over time as you gain experience and develop new skills.
Onboarding Tips for Supervisors
Consider the new CO providers’ existing knowledge and prior experience, and adapt their onboarding plan to meet those needs. For example, you may have new CO providers that have worked in refugee resettlement for years but do not have teaching backgrounds. Their needs will be different than a new CO provider that has never worked in refugee resettlement and has some experience in teaching.
Go beyond check-ins and identify opportunities to collaborate with the new CO providers. For example, cofacilitate a CO session with them, applying concepts from the online lessons. It is recommended to identify these activities in the onboarding plan to ensure accountability. Note that collaboration can also extend beyond CO delivery. For example, encourage CO providers to share relevant resources with colleagues through presentations or staff meetings.
The completion of the onboarding plan is just the beginning. You should identify ways to facilitate continuous learning and development for new CO providers as time permits. This can be done through your organization and/or by staying aware of new resources and learning opportunities available through CORE.