NMSU Professor Discusses Culture Shock


The Chase Photo: Gabrielle Smith

This interactive workshop discussed strategies used to navigate through and move past culture shock.

The workshop was presented by African American Affairs at Eastern New Mexico University on Wednesday, Feb. 19. The guest speaker was Xeturah Woodley, Assistant Professor in the College of Education at New Mexico State University.

Woodley has been conducting research on culture shock and how it affects people in different ways. “I am what is known as a black women theologian,” she said. “My research, my writing, all that I do in life, my curriculum design…everything comes from a space of black womanism.” She mentioned that she is one of three black women that teach at NMSU. This experience has helped to influence some of her research strategies.

Woodley has been researching and trying to figure out the experiences of other black women who are part of a faculty of any institution throughout the state of New Mexico. “Most of my research is lifelong research, so I look at their whole lives, not just the few years that they are at any particular institution,” said Woodley. She captures their stories and perspectives to acquire an understanding of other individuals and their lives.

The workshop provided an opportunity for attendees to engage in conversation about identity and how to navigate culture shock. “Identifying those areas and spaces that may have been a bit of a shock to you and talk about some of the strategies that you’ve used and learned from other people, as well as some of the strategies they’ve used to navigate those spaces. Why? Because we will always have to experience that kind of culture shock,” she said. This workshop encouraged attendees to participate in three different activities such as learning how to define yourself and roles you hold, experiences and survival strategies. Woodley also participated in the activities.

The first activity required the individuals to define themselves. Using the definitions, they created for themselves, they then listed roles they hold based on their identities. From there, everyone partnered up and shared with one another. In the next activity, attendees shared stories of when they may have experienced culture shock. In the final activity each individual shared strategies they used to overcome and survive their cultural shock experiences. Woodley also shared stories from her past to explain her culture shock experience and the steps she took to overcome them. “There are moments when something happens where we have to deal with someone’s racism, sexism or their classism…we have to learn how to navigate past that culture,” she mentioned.

Woodley stated that culture shock is something that everyone regardless of race, age, or gender will face. She mentioned that workshops like the one held on Feb. 19 are a great way to meet different students that you wouldn’t meet normally. She went on to say that these settings encourage individuals to talk with one another and gain different perspectives. Woodley will be

back at ENMU on March 16 in the Zuni Room located in the Campus Union Building to lecture on her research and her findings.

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