Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cultural awareness

For the last few days of class, we are talking about culture in the classroom.

Today we had to pretend that we were from another culture and go around greeting each other based on instructions that were on cards.

Here I am giving a friendly handshake to a woman whose instructions were to keep at a distance and not touch anyone. The trainer is off to the right laughing at us.

I then shook the trainer's hand vigorously, forgetting that she wasn't playing. I guess I got too much into my role.

This guy was trying to bring the same woman in for a hug, as she resisted.

He tried to hug me, but I kept backing away and sticking my hand out.

Finally, he got his hug.

Later in the day we did an exercise where we had to say three words describing ourselves. This was connected with where identity comes from in different cultures. I said that I thought of myself as "shy, funny, and nerdy." The woman next to me said she was "spiritual." I thought that was interesting because she's not religious but does a lot of yoga and meditating. For her that's "spiritual," rather than something tied to faith. I used "Christian" to describe myself once in college when we did this as an ice-breaker. It got no visible response. Later I realized that "Christian" was fairly vague since most of my my classmates were from Virginia and had grown up going to church. It would get more of a reaction here, I think.

My trainer told me at the end of the day that she didn't think I was nerdy. "I can tell you're not a wild kind of girl, but that you like to have fun too," she said (or something like that). Then the others tried to put it into words as well, and they couldn't quite think of the right word to describe me. I wondered if it was something about being a Christian. Would they have made the connection to my behavior, or was it something totally unheard of?

Lest you think all we do is play games, here we are doing some intense classwork:

And here is one of our students. She's from Congo (Republic of, not the DRC) and goes to church with my family sometimes. She was happy because she had just found out that her brother got a visa and will be coming here to study as well.


  1. Интересно там у вас! Ты показала им как здороваются в Африке?

  2. Thanks for sharing about your class! It is very interesting. I would like to take the TESL training myself. Still hoping to find a way to work in Russia....

  3. It's worth checking out. I think my training is more intense than the usual TESL training. There are a range of choices, including distance learning.


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