Intercultural Understandings
British Columbia is a desirable place to call home, and for many newcomers, a second home. In 2006, almost one third of BC residents identified a language other than English as their first language (see Profile of Diversity - BC) In Richmond, according to BCeSIS numbers in 2010, approximately 57% of parents identified their children as speaking a language other than English at home. The richness of this diversity brings first-hand opportunities for learning about cultures and peoples from around the world into our classrooms. It contributes to making the learning environment a vibrant and interesting place to be. Fundamental to learning in this kind of environment is the need to understand and respect one another. In order for schools to thrive and work together to create a better and peaceful community of global citizens, intercultural understanding is a must. Here below are some examples of things offered in Richmond schools as well as things to consider when looking at ways to foster the development of intercultural understanding and respect.

Friendship Clubs
The Multicultural Friendship Clubs began in Richmond elementary schools in 1993. These clubs provide wonderful opportunities for students to learn about the cultural diversity of the human experience. They also encourage young people to learn about and appreciate the different cultures around us. Over the years, thousands of children have participated in these clubs, as have many sponsor teachers, administrators and parent volunteers.
Multicultural Friendship Clubs are offered as an extracurricular activity at lunch time in about half of the District’s elementary schools. In September, an email notice is sent out and schools wishing to have a Friendship Club need to submit a request with the names of at least five parent volunteers to the Cultural Interpreter, Fiona Yeung. Friendship Club support is determined on a first-come, first-serve basis with a limit to the number of school clubs dependent on funding and staff availability. Cost of craft materials are sponsored by the School District. Parent volunteers are required to attend multicultural crafts training workshops in order to participate in Friendship Club activities. For further information, please contact Cultural Interpreter, Fiona Yeung.

Ministry of Education Documents:
For information on perceived behaviours with possible cultural explanations, please see pages 8-10 of English as a Second Language Learners: A guide for Classroom Teachers, 1999.

For information on understand cultural shock, please see "Cultural Differences in Student Behaviour, in

For further information on different cultures and settlement issues, please consider the following:

Against All Odds

Author(s): United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Date: 2010
In “Against All Odds”, students follow a young person’s flight from oppression in his or her home country to exile in an asylum country. The game is intended to increase students’ awareness and knowledge about refugees – where they come from, what situations they have faced and how they adapt to their new lives. Educators can help students learn about the plight of refugees and understand the importance of treating refugees with tolerance and respect. It comes with a teacher's plan and follow up lessons. The UNHRC site also offers free educational materials for teachers of grades 4-12, including lesson plans, magazines, videos, posters and games.


Human Development Report 2010 - 20th Anniversary, The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Developments

Author(s): United Nations Development Program
Date: 2010
The Human Development Index, originally devised in 1990, stressed that besides national income, national development should include life expectancy and literacy as "People are the real wealth of a nation." This report has data on 169 countries and includes information on education, health, gender, poverty, income, birthrate, refugees, and more. It looks at the past several decades and identifies trends and patterns with important lessons for the future. These varied pathways to human development show that there is no single formula for sustainable progress—and that impressive gains can be achieved even without consistent economic growth.
The full report is available here but for additional information such as interactive maps, specific country profiles, press releases, and videos please go to the website listed below.

Document: download

“Positive Parenting Across Cultures: Supporting newcomer families understand Canadian norms and the MCFD” - Provincial Symposium on Cultural Competencies: Supporting Newcomer Children

Author(s): AMSSA
Date: February, 2011
“Positive Parenting Across Cultures: Supporting newcomer families understand Canadian norms and the MCFD” was presented by Deb Kohen and Amber Phillips at the Provincial Symposium on Cultural Competencies: Supporting Newcomer Children, an online and in-person symposium held on February 18, 2011.
Deb Kohen has worked in the area of social services for over 23 years in the provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia. Her experience has been in the areas of child protection, guardianship services, adoption and family development. Amber Phillips has worked in child welfare for 10 years in urban and rural settings in Canada and the United Kingdom and is currently employed as a social worker in Vancouver. Both work at the Ministry of Children and Family Services. They discuss the new "Positive Parenting" videos and its use to help bring information about parenting, support and services for newcomer families.
Other presenters include:

- Sylvia Helmer, UBC, ESL Consultant: Cultural Competency in the Classroom and Curriculum
- Jim Anderson, UBC: Engaging Newcomer Children and Parents through Literacy


For information on a variety of languages, visit the UCLA Language Profiles Project:
"Each Language Profile includes information about the historical, cultural, and social roots of the language, a map showing where the language is spoken, basic facts about the grammar, writing systems, and history of the language, and a wealth of other sociolinguistic information."

Cultural Profiles Project
Cultural Profiles Project

Cultural Profiles: Quick cultural facts, history, politics, economy and summary by country, including BBC videoclips

International Etiquette Guide arranged by country

Centre for Intercultural Learning: Canadian government site with country Insights and historical timelines

Immigration and Diversity Maps for BC: see the immigrant make-up for BC

CIA World Factbook: Maps, flags and country comparisons.

NAFSA Educational Systems Around the World : National Association of International Educators. Secondary and post-secondary credentials are explained to qualify for international study. Provides ‘marks’ equivalents, i.e., what percentage range is equivalent to an A or B or C+, etc.