Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Story of the Year

Well, yesterday was our first day of classes. My class was filled with anthropological discussions on the elements of culture and worldviews. It was a really enjoyable time. My class is filled with an American female from Philadelphia, one male from Florida (St. Pete’s, yes Steph he went to a seminar last month!), myself, an American male working in Gulu, Uganda, a woman from India, two men from the Philippines, a native Kenyan man and a South African man who pronounces my name just like Mom and Dad and works as a pastor of a Dutch Reformed Church.  Taking all these different cultures into account provided a lot of different discussions and perspectives.

For the first half of classes, we took time sharing some cross-cultural communication problems we have faced. Perhaps my new favorite story came from one of my new friends. A young college team from the US was coming to visit a human rights office in the Philippians to go through some training modules. Trying to take the ‘American’ culture into perspective, the team of Filipinos tried to find fun and innovative ways to teach their visitors about their work. They thought “Hey, Americans seem to like games, let’s do our modules in a game show format!” To them, it was a great idea. My new friend even got the privilege of serving as the host of this game and was really excited to take on this role. The host would give a case/story and the two competing teams would race against each other by writing down the correct answer first. The first two questions came and went without any real noticeable problems…until question number three. Now, there is a piece of the puzzle that I didn’t tell you. The module they were teaching on was defining a rape versus a sexual assault. So there my friend is telling various “cases” of a woman or child getting assaulted or raped, encouraging the two teams to quickly scribble down their answers and hold them up. Question three began and all of a sudden, the host notices people are starting to cry and some are running out of the room…well, it turns out that the Filipinos realized that not everyone, including young, fun-seeking yet na├»ve Americans, can handle hearing such dark and horrific stories in this “fun” manner. Needless to say, a lesson was learnt that day: You can never make learning about rape or sexual assaults fun…

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