I like it. I like exercises that get people to "see" in some sense from a new
point of view.

The video "How Difficult Can This Be?" is also good for a similar
purpose--getting people to see what it's like to have a learning disability.

I've recently created an exercise (based on something I'd heard about in
ESL-teaching courses) that raises awareness of the need for cross-cultural
communication skills. Look below Jelaine's posting. Everyone's welcome to it,
but understand that it hasn't been tested anywhere yet but in my imagination.
I'm planning on using it in conjunction with Ross MacDonald's Master Tutor,
Chapter 5.


Jelaine McCamish wrote:

>  I wrote the following exercise to help our student tutors
> put themselves in their shoes.  I let them know right off that we were doing
> something different that might challenge their emotions and temper.  I
> explained that all would become clear later.
> This exercise is in two parts.  The first is the actual "game" that I call
> "Follow the Directions."  The second part is the discussion  of feelings,
> comparing them to how our students feel in the classroom, how they feel in
> tutor sessions, and how they feel in general.


This group exercise is all about experiencing the joys and pitfalls of
multicultural communication. We'll discuss what happened afterwards and how it
has a bearing on tutoring, but for now, just give yourself over to the game.

Game Rules

Each group should choose an ambassador and a secretary. The ambassador should be
someone who's a quick study, can adopt a role quickly, and is comfortable being
in front of people. Nobody of that description? Choose someone at random with
either eenie-meenie-mynie-mo, or one-potato-two-potato. The secretary will keep
track of your group's decisions on paper.

Each group will invent a set of cultural behaviors normal to its own culture.
Don't worry about beliefs; all you're going to decide on are 7
culturally-specific behaviors. Use your imagination!

1. Physical gestures that indicate Yes and No. (In America, for example, we use
nodding and shaking the head. Think of two new ones.)
2. Proximity & location of standing or sitting. (When you sit or stand to talk
with somebody, how far away are you? Do you face them directly?)
3. Use of questions. (Do you want an immediate, direct answer? An indirect
answer? An answer in two weeks? Or do you use questions rhetorically, as a way
to make a point? Perhaps none of these are quite right.)
4. How to answer a question. (Perhaps you answer all questions in the
affirmative, to honor the person asking. Perhaps you don't answer questions
immediately. Perhaps you answer with a question…)
5. Taboo topics. Choose 3 topics that cause offense, and rank them for their
offensiveness. (For example, some Americans of northern European descent find it
mildly offensive to talk explicitly about money. Others find it quite offensive
to talk about matters relating to sexuality.)
6. Facial gestures for taking offense and for being pleased.
7. Standard inquiries or statements upon greeting. (e.g., many Americans of
European descent say, "How are you?" and might comment on the weather.)
8. How to take leave of somebody in a formal situation.

After each group is finished creating their culturally specific behaviors, you
will be given a group task which will involve communicating with the other group
through their ambassador.

First, you will decide, as a group, what you will share with the other group.
Then each group's ambassador will have the sole responsibility of representing
that group to the other group's ambassador. Each ambassador may confer with his
or her own group as often as necessary, but may not speak with anyone from the
other group but their ambassador. And yet, you MUST learn from the other group
how to carry out the task assigned, and you MUST attempt to help the other group
learn how to carry out their task.

(I hadn't yet come up with a task, but I was thinking of: You must learn from
the other group how they locate, finance, design, and build public toilets in
urban areas. I figure it hits on enough taboos that communication ought to get
pretty interesting. And it's real-world: A friend of mine who helps create
better living-conditions in Asian slums has had some funny, circuitous
conversations about exactly this topic.)