Full immersion is required in order to build an accurate and comprehensive sense of cultural awareness. Not only has our group been welcomed and integraded within the community and lives of the people here in Northern Ireland, we have also become active members of the PIPS programmes organization. In just one week the group has met the founder, staff, and volunteer populations of PIPS, as well as attended their suicide prevention training program, and gained first-hand experience interacting with the client base (individuals and families touched by suicide). Through this experience, PIPS has asked the group to provide feedback on what we see within the organization. This is where full immersion is reached.
Today we conducted a focus group to begin exploring the question presented to us from PIPS: HOW DO WE BECOME SAFER? We utilized the concept of “mind mapping” to collectively brainstorm what was meant by the term SAFE. This process allowed us to identify and exhaust anything and everything that impacts the degree of safety experienced by PIPS. In addition, this exercise helps to pull a vast array of ideas from multiple people in order to gain a truly organic representation of the issue at hand: SAFETY.
The group then proceeded to identify who the “we” represented in the organization’s question, “how to we become safer?” Four main stakeholder groups were established: PIPS staff and volunteers, clients (individuals and families seeking help), the community at large, and outside investors (government and funding organizations). Our group was split up into smaller groups so that 2-3 people represented each stakeholder. The following questions were then posed and explored from each stakeholders perspective: 1) what hazards are you currently facing?, 2) how are these hazards harming you?, 3) what is currently being done to alleviate the harm caused?, and 4) what more can be done to reduce/minimize the harm associated with these hazards?
This exercise allowed the group to analyze how various populations are affected by the culture of Northern Ireland as well as the organizational culture of PIPS programmes. The opportunity to go, “back to basics” in terms of aligning the organization’s mission, vision, and goals with how they are actually operating was also explored in this exercise.
In sum, the fact that PIPS programmes has extended their arms to not only say welcome, but also to ask for our help is incredibly powerful. Full immersion requires a great deal of trust. The fact that we have begun to establish this trust with PIPS in just a week’s time speaks loudly. Loudly of the culture here in Northern Ireland, the culture within the PIPS organization, and dedication of us to building an all-encompassing foundation for cultural awareness.