Close Up Conversation #1B: Comparing Cultures & Communities

Overview
RECOMMENDED GRADE LEVELS: 6-8

Our culture can be difficult to define, but nevertheless it has a profound effect on who we are and how we view the world. Understanding the unique aspects of our own culture can help us identify with others as well as value the differences that exist between us. Through this guided conversation, you will learn more about each others' communities and cultures. 

Round 1 (~5 minutes)

Conversation Agreements

Students should take turns reading one of these aloud to the conversation group.

Be Curious and Open to Learning.
Listen to and be open to hearing all points of view. Maintain an attitude of exploration and learning. Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking.

Show Respect and Suspend Judgment.
Human beings tend to judge one another, do your best not to. Setting judgments aside will better enable you to learn from others and help them feel respected and appreciated.

Look for Common Ground and Appreciate Differences.
In this conversation, we look for what we agree on and simply appreciate that we will disagree on some beliefs and opinions.

Be Authentic and Welcome that from Others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak authentically from your personal and heartfelt experience. Be considerate to others who are doing the same.

Be Purposeful and to the Point.
Notice if what you are conveying is or is not “on purpose” to the question at hand. Notice if you are making the same point more than once.

Own and Guide the Conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation by noticing what’s happening and actively support getting yourself and others back “on purpose” when needed.
Round 2 (~10 minutes)

Get to Know Each Other

Get to know each other a bit better by sharing something personal. Each participant should answer one or more of the following questions:

  • Share your name and describe your town or city and school. 
  • If someone visited where you live right now for one day, and you were their tour guide, where would you take them? Why? 
  • If you could have one new class or sport at school, what would it be?
Round 3 (~20 minutes)

Listen and Share to Understand

Share your views -- and listen openly to others' views -- on the assigned topic, without debating or trying to change anyone's opinion. Each participant should answer one or more of the following questions:

  • How would you describe your cultural heritage? (Ex. Religion, race, ethnicity, fashion, etc.) 
  • How have you been shaped by your cultural heritage? (Ex. Traditions, holidays, etc.) 
  • How would you describe the culture(s) of your community? Is everyone similar or different? 
  • What experiences, if any, do you have interacting with people from a different cultural background? 
  • What did you appreciate about those experiences? 
  • What was uncomfortable about them? 
  • What is the value of interacting with people from different backgrounds and cultures?
Round 4 (~10 minutes)

Reflect and Share Takeaways

Reflect on -- and share with other participants -- how it felt to join this conversation. Each participant should answer one or more of the following questions:

  • How are the culture(s) of your communities similar? How are they different? 
  • Were you surprised by any of the similarities and differences between the culture of your communities? Why or why not? 
  • What are you still curious about regarding your conversation group members' cultural heritages? 
  • Has this conversation changed your perception or understanding of anyone in this group, including yourself?
Round 5 (~5 minutes)

Say Goodbye!

Each conversation group member should say goodbye to the others.