Summer SAVY 2016 (Session 4PM, Day 3) – Fact and Fiction: The New World
We started today with a question: What would it be like to encounter a culture totally different from your own? We first outlined different ways cultures could be different: religion, symbols, gestures, taboos, language, community size, etc. Students put this into practice playing a cultural simulation game called Rafa’ Rafa’. The group was separated into two “cultures,” the Alphas, and the Betas. Each had different societal values and practices, like gaining good luck in a game, or winning points in trading relationship. They also had different societal norms, from touching, to language use. As ambassadors were sent from one culture to another, the members of each culture tried to figure out the rules of the other culture. To debrief the simulation, we talked about how individuals felt when they were immersed in the other culture. Reactions ranged from confused to offended. We then centered on the question of whether one culture was inherently better than the other (spoiler alert: both are equally good). We applied this concept to a 20th-century short story by a Central American writer that fictionalizes a meeting between a Spanish missionary and a group of indigenous Mayans. Both parties made cultural assumptions about the other, and students concluded that neither Spanish nor Mayan culture was better or worse, but they were equally valuable.