Conference to educate professionals about cultural diversity


A group of social service and mental health agencies are sponsoring an all-day conference tomorrow in Annapolis to help professionals and county residents from different cultural backgrounds understand and communicate with one another.

"Cultural Diversity -- Co-creating a Solid Foundation To Make Our Community Work" will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. John's College.

An official with one of the sponsors, the Anne Arundel County Community Action Agency, said the conference has particular appeal for professionals, including teachers, social workers and police officers, who must deal regularly with people from cultural backgrounds different than their own.

"The goal is to help them understand the cultural differences between Oriental and Hispanic families, for instance, and how we can effectively" work around those differences," Paula Chase said. "How their family life differs from yours makes a lot of difference in how someone may handle a situation."

About 125 of the 250 seats for the conference, which begins with remarks by County Executive Robert R. Neall, are filled. Dr. Carl Bell, a psychiatrist and executive director of the Community Mental Health Council in Chicago, will give the keynote address. He will be speaking on "Tools for Effectively Understanding, Working and Communicating with Our African-American Youth and Families."

In the afternoon, participants can attend workshops on cultural issues relating to families.

The results of the workshops are to be synthesized into a single plan for community action.

A $30 registration fee includes lunch and morning refreshments; for more information, call the Community Action Agency at 626-1938.

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