The Culture of the Island of Albatros

From Community Narrations

Aims of the practice and description of participants

The purpose of this exercise is to allow participants to reflect on their own cultural bias by observing a ritual performed by a couple from the fictive island of Albatros.

Resources, Materials needed

A chair, a bowl with nuts/seeds as well as a male and a female to play the role of the Albatrosian couple. Perhaps a circle of chairs for observers to watch the role play.

Duration

45 minutes distributed into 10 min for preparation, 5 min of performance and 30 min of discussion.

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

For this role play, two volunteers, a male and a female, are needed and should feel comfortable with the role they are about to play. The woman should walk barefoot and the man should wear shoes. They walk in a different way (much like birds) and talk their own fictive language (humming when they feel happy, hisses as signs of disapproval). When the couple enters the „stage", the man sits down on a chair, whilst the woman kneels next to the man. She offers him the bowl of nuts and he takes some, she eats some as well. Then, the man gently takes her head and moves it to the floor, forcing the kneeling woman to bow her head to the floor. He repeats this 3 times in total.

After the scene is performed, the facilitator engages in a discussion with the observers asking them for their interpretations of what they have just witnessed. He then explains the culture of the island of Albatross: The ground is considered to be holy. Only women are allowed to touch the sacred ground barefoot, as they represent a higher hierarchy. The women feed the men, as the men are not allowed to touch what comes from the ground. The man is allowed to come closer to the holy ground by touching the woman's head and bowing it to the floor.

Learning Outcomes - which skills are addressed?

- Understand the concept of culture through rituals, objects and values.
- Become aware of the impact of culture on people.
- Understand the entwinement of religion and history on cultural rituals.
And finally:
- Become aware of one's own cultural identity and culturally influenced perspective and judgment.

How do you check the outcomes are reached?

After the role play, the facilitator asks the group: What did you observe? What kind of rituals did you observe? This can be answered in a written way, shared with a partner or answered in front of the whole group. Would you like to live on the island of Albatros?
Very likely, the topic of discrimination of men against women will be addressed here. After explaining the Albatross' culture, the facilitator asks the group why they felt they saw discrimination. Also clarifying that in this Albatrosian culture GOOD is DOWN and in western cultures GOOD is UP. Further discussions can be about the likelihood of making the same false interpretations when visiting a foreign culture. And also, finding strategies to deepen the understanding of underlying cultural meanings before judging a culture.

Further Links/Readings

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO8JQoRoJq0