From Community Narrations

Aims of the practice and description of participants

1. To learn to communicate effectively across cultural groups.
2. To help students interrogate assumptions they may have about group norms and to critically analyze where those norms have come from, determining whether or not they continue to be useful in new contexts.
3. To understand what happens when we are not utilizing the same “rules” or “norms” as others in the group.
4. To interrogate what the role of communication is in helping us either be confused or understand one another.

Resources, Materials needed

One Card deck per table
Barnaga Rules:
Tournament rules and guide: L/view?usp=drivesdk>


45-60 minutes

Step-by-step - what has to be done?


Set up a room just with small tables. Prepare the rules as print outs.
1. Announce that a tournament will be played. All participants have to play without talking.
2. Read the set of rules:
BARNGA Tournament Guidesheet √ You will have about 5 minutes To study the rules for and practice playing “Five Tricks.” Then the rules will be taken away And no verbal communication will be allowed. From then on, you may gesture or draw pictures (not words!) But you may not speak or write words or use sign language. Then the tournament will begin.
You will have a few more minutes to play at your home table (in silence). The Scoring begins at the start of the Tournament.
Game Winner: The player taking the most tricks in the Game (one “hand”.) If a game is not complete when the Round ends, the play winning the most tricks so far in the game wins that game.
Round Winner: The player winning the most games in the Round. (Ordinarily, several games will be played during a Round). Each Round lasts a few minutes.
PLAYERS MOVE like this at the end of each Round:The player who has won the most games during a Round moves up to the next highest numbered table. If there are more than four players at a table, the two players who have won the most games during a Round move up to the next highest numbered table. The player who has won the fewest games during a Round moves down to the next lowest numbered table. If there are more than four players at a table, the two players who have won the fewest games during a Round move down to the next lowest numbered table.
The other players remain at the table. Winning players at the highest table remain at that table, as do losing players at the lowest table. Ties are resolved by alphabetical order.
The players go now to the table and the educator is handing out different rules per table.
Let the tournaments begin. When the players move to new tables, you will hear discomfort and frustration. Remind 5he players to stay silence.
After a few rounds stop and ask everyone how they feel and what did they experienced. Ask how they solved the different rules and how did the newcomer and the already sitting players felt and adapted.

A set of reflection could contain:
During this game, all participants did their best, but each group had a different set of circumstances and ground rules. Even when people discovered that the rules were different, they didn’t always know how they were different. Even when they discovered how the rules were different, they didn’t always know what to do the bridge the differences.
This Game Simulates Real-Life Situations:
1. What specific real-life situations does this game remind you of?
2. Choose one of these real-life situations, and ask:
o What are the underlying causes of the problems of difficulties?
o What does the game suggest about what to do when you are in a similar situation in the real world?
o What did you do during the game which “worked” for you?
3. Prepare to report your best idea to the whole group.

Learning Outcomes - which skills are addressed?

This exercise is best implemented early in the semester when students are first learning how to communicate effectively with one another. It illustrates what happens when that communication breaks down. It is also effective for first-year seminar courses with students who are transitioning to the university with new norms and rules, different from what they are used to. Finally, this is great for building intercultural awareness. We tend to make a lot of assumptions about other groups based on our norms.

How do you check the outcomes are reached?

Group reflection on the process and the emotions.

Further Links/Reading

Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan with Raja Thiagarajan, BARNGA: A Simulation Game on Cultural Clashes, Boston: Intercultural Press, 2006