As a new Cultural Orientation provider or supervisor, you can use this page to assist you and your organization to successfully implement effective Cultural Orientation. Below you will find basic information about Cultural Orientation, the key concepts for effective Cultural Orientation, along with onboarding plans and guidance for observing sessions. The term “Cultural Orientation provider” is inclusive of any staff tasked with providing Cultural Orientation, which may vary by organization.
If you are looking for guidance on creating a Whole-Office approach to complement the delivery of Cultural Orientation sessions, access our toolkit page. In addition to these resources, if you are new to refugee resettlement, please see this resource collection for resources on understanding refugee populations, case management, inclusion, and more.
Online Courses & Webinars
Online Courses & Webinars
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 Agency.
To learn more about Cultural Orientation, visit the About Cultural Orientation page and complete the Cultural Orientation Defined online course. To learn about refugee resettlement, see Who are Refugees and How do they Arrive in the United States? and CORE’s USRAP overview.
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.
Learn More: Complete the Cognitive Load and How to Manage It course or review the Cognitive Load and Memory Poster.
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.
Learn More: Complete the Creating a Positive Learning Environment course or review the Creating a Positive Learning Environment Poster.
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.
Learn More: Complete the Taking a Strengths-Based Approach course or review the Strengths-Based Approach Poster.
Onboarding Tips for New Cultural Orientation Providers
New to delivering Cultural Orientation? This toolkit is designed to prepare you with the knowledge and skills to deliver interactive and engaging Cultural Orientation.
As a new Cultural Orientation provider you may be juggling learning new information with developing skills while also managing other roles and responsibilities. Keep this in mind when you work with your supervisor to develop your onboarding plan and determine a realistic pace.
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 Cultural Orientation and, as applicable, other tasks at work. For example, identify new ways to incorporate student-centered learning concepts into your Cultural Orientation 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 Cultural Orientation 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 Cultural Orientation provider. Have alternative plans so you can change them as necessary in the moment. Acknowledge that even the best planned Cultural Orientation session may not go as envisioned. The ability to shift during a Cultural Orientation 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
As a supervisor, it is important to understand the needs and skills of staff to provide effective, useful, and adaptive Cultural Orientation. These tips may help you onboard a new Cultural Orientation provider.
Consider the new Cultural Orientation providers’ existing knowledge and prior experience, and adapt their onboarding plan to meet those needs. For example, you may have new Cultural Orientation providers that have worked in refugee resettlement for years but do not have teaching backgrounds. Their needs will be different than a new Cultural Orientation provider that has never worked in refugee resettlement and has some experience in teaching.
Engage with new Cultural Orientation providers through check-ins and discover what they are learning from both in-person and online activities. These check-ins will help to monitor progress of the onboarding plan and are an opportunity to address and/or assess additional needs.
Go beyond check-ins and identify opportunities to collaborate with the new Cultural Orientation providers. For example, cofacilitate a Cultural Orientation 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 Cultural Orientation delivery. For example, encourage Cultural Orientation 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 Cultural Orientation 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.