Global Leadership Activities – Pre-Program
Activity 5: What's Up with the Nacirema?
How It Works
Reading about this fascinating culture will give you a better understanding of what culture means and how it can be viewed from multiple perspectives.
How You Do It
- Click HERE to access and read or print and read the essay: Body Ritual Among the Nacirema
- After the reading about the Nacirema, reflect upon the following questions and write down your answers:
- What do you think about the Nacirema?
- Are there any similarities or differences between our culture and the Nacirema?
- How do you think life would be different if you were part of the Nacirema culture?
*DO NOT READ BELOW THIS POINT UNTIL YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE FIRST PART OF THIS ACTIVITY.*
- Now that you’ve read and thought about the article, read the word Nacirema again backwards. You may be surprised to learn that the article you just read is actually an essay describing American culture from a potential outsider perspective! SURPRISE!
- Answer the following questions on paper:
- Were you surprised when you figured out who the Nacirema were?
- What are some of the assumptions you made about the practices and rituals of the culture when reading?
- How do our own cultural norms affect our understanding and perception of other cultures?
- How might this activity inform how you approach the people we meet while abroad?
Take Away Points
- It is easy for us to judge different peoples and cultures as “weird,” “exotic” and “backwards.” These are simple stereotypes that are probably not true. It is much better to adopt a stance of non-judgement and curiosity.
- What you think you understand about a culture at first glance may not be aligned with what people understand and value about their own culture.