This is part of a series, “Classroom Notes” that I will be sharing as I connect with a classroom in the U.S. through the World Wise Schools program. You can read the previous posts about this series here at CLASSROOM NOTES.
A few weeks ago I met with the 6th grade class to share and discuss the topic of cultural differences. We had an activity that I used during Peace Corps training that uses the analogy of an iceberg. When it comes to seeing and understanding cultural differences it can be quite challenging — just like an iceberg. There are things that you can see above the surface (tip of the iceberg) like facial expressions, food, and art and then there are things that you cannot see below the surface like rules of social etiquette or the concept of beauty that are found much deeper under the surface of the iceberg.
Previously, I had found a neat online tool to illustrate this. You can find the online activity HERE. It really helped with understanding how there are some things that are much more noticeable like how someone dresses as part of their culture, however one may not understand WHY just by looking at them, but the reason why they may dress a certain way has to do with a deeper level of understanding within their culture which is hidden below the surface of understanding.
Another fun part of our call was a video that I found within the depths of Peace Corps resources explaining different cultural gaffes from around the world. This certainly gave them a different perspective and something to think about if they ever travel abroad.
Cultural differences are just that… different! There is no right or wrong way of doing something — part of experiencing a new culture is learning about the differences and seeing things from a new perspective. There are MANY things that I just don’t understand here in Moldova but I just have to remember that those things are part of Moldova’s culture and history and I may never understand them. And they may not understand me/Americans — but that’s the unique part of being a Peace Corps volunteer; we get to share those experiences and differences with one another.