40-60 minutes (or more, depending upon how many cultural dimensions you choose to use)
Teens or adults who interact with people of different cultures or are planning to do so
This game illustrates the differences between the many different cultures of the world. It borrows from the research of Geert Hofstede, Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner and the writings of Craig Storti. Facilitators can benefit from having some familiarity with the different cultural dimensions before conducting the game.
The materials contain many more cultural dimensions than you probably want to cover in one game. You can pick out the ones that are most relevant to your group, or you might want to run this game at different times during a multi-day meeting.
The “Cultural Continuums – Answers” file focuses largely on Europe and Asia, because that was the context for the group for which this game was developed. However, additional flags are provided in the “Cultural Continuums – Flags” file, and the full statistics for each continuum are in the Notes section of the PowerPoint slide. You can change the flags with this information.
- Genesis 11:1-9
- Flag cards – one set per team (These are available in the file “Cultural Continuums – Flags” on the Lessons and Downloads page at www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
- Answer key (This can be found in the file “Cultural Continuums – Answers” on the Lessons and Downloads page at www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
- Rolls of masking tape (one per team)
- Print out copies of the flag cards (one copy per team)
- Review the facilitator notes on the Notes section under each slide in the “Cultural Continuums – Answers.”
- Practice the script.
Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):
- “You may remember the story of the Tower of Babel.” (Ask a volunteer to read it out loud from Genesis 11:1-9.)
- “This Scripture is the birthplace of cultural diversity.”
- “Never again would mankind all speak the same language or observe the same cultural practices – at least not until Christ returns, and probably not even then will we give up the cultural practices that make us unique.”
- “So, let’s see how different we’ve become.”
- “We are going to play a game to highlight the many differences among the various cultures of the world.”
- “I will briefly describe a continuum of a cultural dimension. (A continuum is something that goes from one extreme on one end to the other extreme on the other end.)”
- “After I’ve described it, you will take a group of flags (that I’m about to hand you) and stick them to the wall in the order that you think best represents where you think that country falls on the continuum.” (Hand out sets of flag pictures and tape to each group.)
- “Then, I will show you the ‘right answers’ on the screen at the front of the room.”
- “Just so that you know, the ‘right answers’ are based on the work of some cultural experts who have been studying different cultures for many years.”
- “You may not always agree with their findings, and that’s okay. We can talk about it during the debrief.”
- “Sometimes, countries had the same ranking or rating in their studies. In this case, the countries will be shown in the same place on the continuum I show you at the front of the room.”
- “Does anyone have any questions about how the game will work?” (Answer questions.)
- “Okay, let’s play.” (Do as many cultural dimensions as you like. After each one, you might want to ask the group members to explain why they ordered the flags in the way that they did. There will always be at least one country that wasn’t part of the study. You might want to focus on these and ask each group how they made their decision in regard to these countries. When you are done with all the dimensions, have the groups discuss the following questions. (You may want to post them on a flipchart.) Allow 15-20 minutes for discussion, and then debrief as a large group.)
- What do you think about the different cultural dimensions, and where the countries landed on the continuums?
- What was surprising to you?
- Is there anything that you disagreed with? Why?
- What do these differences mean for how we work with people from different cultures?
- What will you personally do differently as a result of what you have learned?