should write this down on paper or a flipchart page. If they don’t know what the object is
or what it’s for, they should make up a name and a function, and write these down. Ask
them to work independently; reassure them that they will get to share their ideas later.
3. Invite the participants to investigate the items and make notes.
4. When all participants have returned to their seats, ask them to share their emotions associ-
ated with the experience. Some of the possible emotions mentioned might be
• inadequate (because they didn’t know what the objects were).
Relate these emotions back to the experience of what it is like to try to figure out what
concepts are or mean in a new environment—if they don’t know what something is or
what it’s for, they are likely to guess, just as the participants did during the game. Tell the
participants you wanted to see how good they were at guessing.
Tell them you want to hear first from those who were baffled by an object; those who
knew what the object was can speak later.
One-by-one, go through the objects, eliminating the wild guesses first and then explaining
the real name and function of each object.
When you are finished explaining the objects, relate the simulation to intercultural experi-
ences: “When a person first encounters a new culture, he or she is being asked to answer a
question or make a decision about one little piece of a culture, just as you were asked to do
during the game. As you experienced, it can be very difficult to come to accurate conclusions
when one is operating out of context.”
On the basis of this experience, urge participants to provide as much contextual information
as possible when working with people new to the culture and to “describe” a situation fully
before they “ascribe” meaning to the situation. Also, urge participants to be aware that the
assumptions they hold regarding some of the questions in their intercultural encounters—
what “yes” means, what are good business practices, how we define family, etc.—can differ
from the beliefs held by the people of the culture. It is always useful to test those assumptions.