How to grow a culturally responsive career practice

Peter Apulu
26 January 2022

Apulu, P. (2022). How to grow a culturally responsive career practice. (A thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Professional Practice, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand). https://doi.org/10.34074/thes.5711

Abstract

As a career practitioner working towards opening a career service in South Auckland, I intended to explore the lived experience of Pacific youth in shaping their entry into their careers whilst negotiating the dual expectations of self and community in the backdrop of the Pacific diaspora in Tamaki Makaurau. I investigate the role of existing career practitioners supporting the career pathways of Pacific youth, including unpacking South Auckland's cultural, political, social, and historical landscape in playing a significantly influential role in Pacific youth's career decisions and aspirations.

Collectivist societies of the Pacific diaspora communities of Aotearoa revolve around what is best for the collective. Therefore, the collective inherently influences the career pathway of a Pacific person. The underpinning themes that induce the career decisions of Pacific peoples are the social norms grounded in the bedrock values and beliefs of family, faith and culture (Thomson et al., 2018).

As a process, career development is a practice that intrinsically emphasises the individual's journey to accomplish future career goals. Consequently, the predominant ideology of individualism in Aotearoa governs the landscape of employment and career aspirations. Career management is a process that espouses self-awareness to help individuals become apt at managing their career pathway, which is often measured by their success. But for a Pacific person to motivate their career pathway, one needs to consider the unique experience of the duality of walking in both worlds, the individual pursuit versus the service to family and community. Therefore, the measurement of success is complex for a Pacific person when career aspirations are governed by the collective's social norms and expectations. This thesis reveals layers of challenges for individuals and communities of Pacific peoples; when asking the research participants in a focus group their definition of cultural responsiveness, one participant wrote, "The only reason we discuss cultural responsiveness is because of our colonial history. Cultural responsiveness is needed to try to readdress societal inequality. But is yet another compartmentalised way of addressing inequity." Tackling the provocative topic of colonialism and its impact on the Pacific communities gave me insight into how deeply rooted the hegemonic ideologies are entangled in our ways of being as a diaspora.

This study addresses the complexities of a broader structural change in South Auckland secondary schools, let alone deficit theorising, tokenism, and cultural biases. It is with certainty that the power of the collective, spirituality and indigeneity when working with the Pacific community are solutions and answers to the challenges within. The impact on my professional practice has been profoundly shifted from an Indigenous lens that infuses a collectivist approach that can best be described as a co-design framework that is holistic and distinctly Pacific in my professional practice.

Keywords: cultural responsiveness, collectivism, Pacific indigeneity, career development

Peter's academic mentor was Émilie Crossley.

Licence

This thesis is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International.

Creative Commons License