Cultural Wellness

What is Cultural wellness?

Cultural wellness is the ability to create and maintain a positive, inclusive environment that values inclusivity and mutual benefit. It is also a strong sense of citizenship/belonging and positive contribution to one’s home, community, school, organization, neighbourhood, city, province/state, and country. Cultural wellness encorporates a sense of awareness, understanding, and respect for different cultures, genders, sexual orientations, income/education levels, and other aspects of diversity.

Similarly, it includes awareness and understanding of, as well as respect, for one’s own cultural background. Cultural wellness also includes avoiding damaging biases and stereotypes, ensuring a positive, inclusive, equitable environment, and standing-up for others in cases of injustice, as well as respect for, and adherence to, laws and regulations.

Cultural wellness includes, but is not limited to:

  • Strong citizenship (neighbourhood, city, province/state, country)
  • Positive, inclusive, equitable environment
  • Understanding and appreciation of edict, cultures, traditions, and diversity (your own and others)
  • Establishing relationships with those of different backgrounds (inclusivity)
  • Standing-up for/supporting others in times of injustice
  • Avoidance of damaging stereotypes and biases
  • Acceptance of all ethnicities, cultures, religions, genders, sexual orientations, creeds, etc.
  • Respect for, and adherence to, laws and regulations

Tips on Managing Cultural Wellness

  1. Understand the different cultures that exist: going back to the definition of culture, culture is the distinctive ideas, customs, social behaviour, products, or way of life of a particular nation, society, people, or period (OED). Culture is not just ethnic or national, it also exists in many forms such as (but is not limited to) academic culture, religious culture, gay culture, internet culture, workplace culture (and that includes Engineering culture too).
  2. Connect with your culture and people from other cultures: whether it is a student club or a local community, connecting with people from cultures you are and aren't part off is an excellent way to become more culturally sensitive (knowing, understanding, accepting, and respecting different cultures and peoples' cultural identities). Asking a family member, friend, or co-worker about your culture or their culture can be a great starting point, as cultural identity and pride is positively tied to self-esteem and wellbeing. You may even discover new interests through learning about other cultures, whether it is a new favourite dish, style of music or dance, or even a new method of getting things and work done. The KW Multicultural Centre also holds an annual Multicultural Festival that features performances, art, and food from different cultures.
  3. Join a club or student association: WUSA supports clubs dedicated to every interest and activity under the sun, ranging from hobbies, studies, charities, social movements, religions, and more. This includes clubs supporting culture-specific activities such as the Arab Student Association, University of Waterloo Chinese Classical Dance Club, and the Greek Council. A full list of cultural clubs supported by WUSA can be found here.
  4. Are you a student? Go on a foreign exchange! What better way to educate yourself in a new culture than to dive right into it? Foreign exchanges offer a unique opportunity in immersing yourself in a new culture and you get to experience what it's like to be an international student for a term (or more!). For more information on Engineering foreign exchanges, visit the Engineering International Exchange page.