Students Share Multicultural Psychology Lessons

April 15, 2013

By Maria Klecko ’15

Kevin Shaddock made a self-discovery while volunteering in a kindergarten class at Columbus Elementary in Chester. The experience opened his eyes to a cultural context that he hadn’t known growing up in a middle-to-upper class area.

“I found a desire to give back to the community,” said Shaddock, a sophomore psychology pre-physical therapy major. “Performing community service changed my life.”

Shaddock participated in this service learning project for his Multicultural Psychology class during the fall 2012 semester. He and two other students, Michael Corcoran, a senior psychology major, and April Gucene, a sophomore psychology pre-physical therapy major, said various class activities taught them more information than can be found in a textbook.

Dr. Lori Simons, an associate professor of psychology, teaches the Multicultural Psychology course. “The goals of the class are to teach multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills,” Simons said.

multicultural class

Students in a Widener University Multicultural Psychology said a yarn exercise showed how everybody is connected.

During a presentation the students made during Honors Week, Corcoran highlighted the multicultural immersion observation in which he experienced anxiety upon meeting his girlfriend’s Indian parents. His stress was alleviated once he sat down and talked with them. He said that he learned about acceptance through interacting with a culture that is unlike his own.

Gucene spoke about the multicultural movie review that included an in-class viewing of Mississippi Burning. Students also were assigned to watch a film outside of class. Gucene chose The Blind Side and determined that both movies depict overt racism. Through this activity, she learned to detect stereotypes that are portrayed in the media.

The students explained the intercultural interview assignment where classmates from dissimilar backgrounds and cultures interviewed each other, teaching them to embrace differences.

Members of the group were asked to share the most important lesson learned from the class. For Shaddock, it was community service. Gucene agreed, adding that she now speaks up about prejudices. Corcoran informed the audience that for him, it was recognizing differences and appreciating them.

“I look out, and I may not know any of you, but you’re all friends to me,” Corcoran said.


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