Online Toolkit

Part 5 - Modules

Visiting the Albatross Culture

MAIN THEMESConflict, intercultural learning.
DURATION1 to 1.5 hours – depending on the number of participants.
AIMSThis game aims at bringing the participants into a situation in which they are confronted with things, behaviour, experiences etc., new to them. It serves to bring out the fact that many things are interpreted wrongly at first sight, and points out the complexity of culture.
- Ask participants to leave the room while you prepare. Organise chairs in a circle inside a room. Have a male facilitator sit on a chair, and a female facilitator kneel barefoot on the floor next to him.
- Let the participants enter the room (the only information they are given beforehand is that they are now visiting a new culture as guests).

There are three ways of communicating (which are not known to the participants at the beginning of the game).
   1) "Sssssssss!!!" = negative signal (for incorrect behaviour),
   2) "Mhmhmhmmmm!!!" = positive signal (for correct behaviour),
   3) Clicking one's tongue = an order to do something.

The activity could be defined as follows (there are however no limits to being creative!):

Taking her position, the female facilitator signals to the participants to do the following:
- The female participants should kneel on the floor just like her.
- The male participants should sit down on the chairs.
- The female participants should take off their shoes.

The male facilitator welcomes the other men by standing up and signalling to one man at a time to also stand up. Then the two men rub their knees together (right knee to right knee).
The female leader welcomes the other women, by making them stand up one at a time and rubbing their legs with her hands from hip to toes.

Drinking water
The female leader walks around and offers water by holding the glass to the mouths of the men to let them drink, with the women she passes the glass to them and they drink themselves.

Eating bread
The female facilitator walks around feeds the men with the bread (like feeding children) and passes the bread into the hands of the women for them to eat the bread by themselves.

Choosing a woman
Afterwards both male and female facilitators walk around and look at the feet of the individual women (they are signalled to stand up one at a time to have their feet inspected). They choose the woman with the biggest feet and signal her to take her place (kneeling) on the other side of the chair that the male leader sits on.

Hand on head
The leader places his hands on the heads of the two women kneeling beside him and tilts their heads gently towards the floor. He motions to the other men to do the same to the women on their sides.

After the activity is over, ask the participants to go back to their seats and go back to "reality". Guide them to evaluate the game by asking questions like:
   - Any observations? Did you notice anything in particular?
   - What happened? How did the men feel?
   - How did the women experience their roles?

Depending on the outcome of the activity, you can also ask the following questions:
-Did most of you immediately assume that the women were being discriminated against? Why did you think this way. Is this is often the case?
- Can you relate this to what's happening today?
- Pointing out hierarchies: in Europe up = good, in Albatross down = good.
- Do you believe that in a foreign country/culture you would feel like you felt in this game?
- How can we try to find out what the underlying reasons for behaviour are if we are not sure of interpreting the behaviour correctly?
HUMAN RESOURCES NECESSARY1 male and 1 female facilitators.
12-15 participants (preferably with equal number of males and females).
This activity is also meaningful for groups with diverse cultures and backgrounds.
MATERIALSChairs (in accordance to the number of male participants), glass with water, pieces of bread.
OBJECTIVES REALIZEDThe participants can realize that everything in "the visible culture" cannot always be interpreted as they see it.
True meanings lie beneath the surface.
WHERE WAS IT USED? During a Youth-Exchange about unemployment "It's Up to You" (Estonia, August 2009).
MORE*Quelle: Vorbereitungscamp 2003, Handbuch für BetreuerInnen, AFS Steiermark 2003
*Intercultural Learning in The Classroom, crossing borders, Helmut Fennes and Karen Hapgood, Council of Europe & Cassell, ISBN 0-304-3265-2
SALTO Youth-Net -[]=11&type_id[]=1

In the Albatross Culture, the ground is considered holy.

In the social hierarchy the women rank above men, therefore only women are allowed to touch the holy ground barefoot. The women are considered holy, too. The men must not touch what comes from the ground, therefore the men are fed by the women, whereas the women may touch the food and the water.

The woman was chosen by the size of her foot, and the honour to kneel beside the leader was given to her as the woman with the largest feet because she has the biggest area of contact with the holy ground.

The bending of the heads was a sign of gratitude - in this way the men can be closer to the holy ground (by touching the women!).