Mindfulness into Action (MIA®) for Cultural Humility and Awareness (MIA-CHA) has the two main aims:
(1) training students in how to be transformational leaders who are capable of addressing and resolving tension around diversity issues within organizations, communities, and societies, as they emerge skilled in ending microaggressions (Pierce, 1995;Sue et al, 2007) and fostering cross-cultural harmony;
(2) training students to emerge as competent researchers who may contribute data regarding the utility of MIA-CHA for ending microaggressions and promoting cultural humility and awareness to meet contemporary diversity challenges.
The anticipated result is a new generation of researchers and new era of grant-funded research that pioneers MIA-CHA for ending microaggressions and fostering cohesion. Through participation in a leadership skills development methodology that incorporates indigenous knowledge and organizational learning techniques, students gradually become more aware of their own unconscious behaviors, more in tune with the people surrounding them, and increasingly skillful in engaging in conscious and intentional action (Vergara, 2016). They become what Boyatzis and Mckee (2005) call “resonant leaders.” This means that they are capable of achieving a new awareness that is vital in cross-cultural interactions: i.e. the ability to connect with their thoughts, emotions, and hearts in ways that enable them to counteract the destructive effects of stress, dissonance, and self-limiting mindsets often associated with contemporary diversity challenges;; and, instead, they learn to nurture the development of sustainable, harmonious, and high functioning relationships shared among the diverse membership of organizations and communities.
International a student at Columbia University.
A student from Columbia University.
A student who took the MIA® course online.
In October 2016, NTNU submitted a grant proposal to make the implementation of MIA® in a sustainable manner at Norwegian University of Science and Tecnology (NTNU). This proposal included bringing 10 NTNU students to Teachers College – Columbia University in NYC to take the MIA® Global Leadership Certification. In addition, it included in the grant funding for bringing NTNU students to the Amazon rainforest with Columbia University students on the research field trip in 2017.
A Norwegian participant from NTNU who traveled to Ecuador to Universidad Técnica del Norte, Ecuador
Application of the methodology MIA® to develop Organizational Learning at the Gymnasium in Universidad Técnica del Norte (UTN), 2018.
The main intention of this study is to apply the Mindfulness Into Action (MIA®) methodology to identify a significant effect in the solution of organizational problems of the Gymnasium of the UTN. There were 12 participants, of which 7 participated consistently and 5 did not consistently attend the weekly meetings. During the progress of this work, the following objectives were proposed: a) Do pre-assessment and post-assessment to identify problems for the Gymnasium and for the individuals. The Global Leadership Profile (GLP) of each participant was identified through the application of the GLP and the Stress Vulnerability Test. A Medical assessment was also performed to observe the health status of each participant, before and after the MIA® methodology; b) Implementation of the MIA® methodology with its components: indigenous practices and organizational techniques. The meetings were held once a week (for seven weeks), which were recorded, and then transcribed. In the transcription of the audios, the grounded theory was applied for the qualitative analysis. The main findings of this study in the pre-assessment were multiple problems of an organizational nature, of communication, disrespect to the regular hierarchical body; and above all a lack of knowledge of the functions of each role. Findings show that these problems were overcome or eliminated in the post-assessment. At the individual level, it was evident that the participants had significant behavioral changes, with an increment in their emotional intelligence. The medical analysis also showed a clear improvement in all the participants, there was a decrease in both the heart rate and blood pressure. In conclusion, the results in this study show a significant effect in the solution of problems in the Gymnasium of the UTN.
Using the MIA® methodology to address the drop-out rate in college students.
In January 2018, at public university in Ecuador, the methodology MIA® was implemented with a group of university students. They were 31 students, from which 12 were failing the course. This was a course about Legislation. Psychological tools from the MIA® Institute were applied with all students because we were making sure that the failing students did not feel excluded. The MIA® methodology is a transformational learning approach because it is a process that increases human development. There was a pre-evaluation and a post-evaluation of this process where we researched the changes in their behavior before, during and after the implementation. Weekly sessions were conducted (once a week) during six weeks. After participants signed the consent form, the sessions were recorded. In order to do qualitative analysis, the audios were also transcribed. Through the qualitative and quantitative analysis, we found that at the beginning of the process these 12 students were not going to classes consistently, and they were not doing their homework. As students were finding their self-sabotaging behaviors, they began to observe them. Later, it was found that students were capable to identify and change self-sabotaging behaviors. Eleven out of twelve students that were originally failing were able to pass the course and the twelfth student decided to change his major. Taking in account the high drop out rate, it is important to consider this strategy with the MIA® methodology to retain the students in the educational system.
Research Article in Spanish:
Testimony – Student (in Spanish)
In March 2004, Dr. Ernest Palestis, Superintendent of Morris Hills Regional School District, convened a committee called the ESL/Diversity Committee to address academic concerns for the Hispanic population in the Morris Hills Regional School District. At that time, Dr. Mariana Vergara (founder of MIA®) was asked to be a member of the committee both as a parent in the district, as well as for her expertise in connection with the Hispanic community through the Family Development Center in Dover, New Jersey.
At that time, the committee was formed to improve HSPA scores for grade 11 Hispanic students at Morris Hills High School. The scores were quite low in 2003. Additionally, the ESL program ran only at one high school and was not achieving its goal of exiting students from the program in a timely manner, providing them with grade level course work, tutorial assistance, or credit status in their courses.
The first undertaking that Dr. Vergara was involved with was helping the Morris Hills High School administrators and counselors to involve Hispanic parents in the transition from middle school to high school. By inviting Hispanic parents to special scheduling sessions during the end of their child’s eighth grade year and providing a special session with translators for the parents during our Freshmen Orientation, this quickly helped the administration and the counselors meet parents and involve them in our high school. Dr. Vergara recognized what many of us had known for years in the Morris Hills Regional District and that was that our students were often placed in the ESL program without mediation and asked to take required course work as audits until they were able to master the English language. This philosophy not only caused the students difficulty in dealing with English classes in which they were unable to function, but also to impede their academic progress by limiting their ability to build their credit totals in their academic courses. By restricting their ability to accumulate academic credits in their classes, ESL students were extending their high school careers, and in many cases, frustrating them even further. After assessing the districts needs, several initiative were undertaken. For example, Dr. Vergara initiated a pre-high school tutorial program to prepare eighth grade students for advanced and challenging course work upon entering high school.
The program that Dr. Vergara set-up involved County College of Morris students tutoring eighth graders in core academic courses such as Biology, Algebra I, US History, and English. This began at the student’s eighth grade year and throughout the summer before he/she entered high school as freshman. The tutoring took place at both at her home and in classrooms at the middle school in which the student attended. This core group of students were then scheduled into more advanced classes as they entered their freshman year of high school. They proved to be better prepared to complete in accelerated course work at levels that were above and beyond what they may have been scheduled for as recently exited ESL students. In addition to the tutorial piece which continued throughout most of their freshman year, Morris Hills High School split its ESL program to have one ESL teacher in both Morris Knolls High School and Morris Hills High School, thereby reducing class size to help our students. The ESL program also began incorporating a bilingual Math and English teacher to work with the ESL students through an in-class support program to improve upon their reading comprehension, their writing and vocabulary skills in English, their number sense, their Geometry skills and measurement skills, and their data analysis skills in Algebra I and Geometry. This program focused upon improvement of their standardized test scores as measured by the grade 11 HSPA test.
Finally, following Dr. Vergara’s model, the district created an after school flex program where students could come for extra help with both their ESL teacher and specialized teachers in each academic area. While the Morris Hills Regional District has continued to look for ways to support and enhance the academic success of our Hispanic population, including providing academic support in a variety of new ways both during and after school hours, it was truly Dr. Vergara who was the catalyst to start these changes in the Morris Hills Regional School District. While there are many factors that are necessary to improve any group of students in the high school setting, certainly the model that Dr. Vergara helped promote here in the Morris Hills Regional District has proven to be successful for the Hispanic population. HSPA scores in Morris Hills High School for both Math and Language Arts Literacy have been among the highest in the state of New Jersey for the Hispanic population which continues to grow on a yearly basis.
Using Neuroplasticity in developing Emotional Intelligence through the implementation of the MIA® methodology, a model of transformational learning.
In the global world in which we live today, there are more demands nowadays than in the last 30 years. Many times, people are too busy to take the time to see how our behavior affects aspects of our daily life; and how this leads to not only to make mistakes but not to be aware of them. They are subconscious behaviors that often we cannot identify because human beings are disconnected from everything that surrounds them. In studies of human social behavior, it has been identified that the difference between the success and failure of a person is the ability with which he/ she manages to learn to identify and consciously control his/her emotions. From a neuroscience perspective, when the MIA® methodology is applied, we are using the neuro-plasticity capacity of our brain. The MIA® methodology activates the neocortical region of the brain that allows greater self-regulation. In this way, the emotional intelligence skills of the participants are measured with a pre and post-diagnosis of the participant regarding their leadership style, stress level, and emotional intelligence to identify self-sabotaging behaviors, and later change them.
Research Article in Spanish:
This study was carried out in January 2019 in an elementary school in Ecuador, in which bullying problems that existed in a certain classroom were investigated. When applying the MIA® methodology, psychological tools were used such the Leadership Test, emotional Intelligence test and the Level of stress to evaluate the fundamentals of transformational learning in the participants (with a pre and post diagnosis). The application of the MIA® methodology was implemented with 25 students ages 6 to 7 years old, where 7 of the students had problems with aggression. Four sessions were held once a week for four weeks. These meetings were held in order to apply the MIA® methodology in the classroom and it successfully achieved a decrease in Bullying, changing the behavior of students to create a harmonious educational environment where camaraderie and respect among the students prevail. As a result, the students of this institution were able to change their aggressive behavior that generated harm towards other classmates and it was possible to create a healthy educational environment to continue with their academic work in a satisfactory way.