Our students are coming of age in an increasingly divided and polarized world. It is easier than ever to find your own comfortable corner and fill it only with voices that sound just like your own. When Cultures Collide is designed to push students out of their comfort zone and to teach them how to have courageous conversations across cultural differences. By interacting with and interviewing leaders working to bridge conflict between cultures from around the city, our students had the opportunity to be inspired by the work being done locally that combats prejudice and inequality of all types. The students then photographed these local heroes and interviewed them to create a website documenting how they overcome these struggles on a daily basis. There were four questions that guided our inquiry:
- How can art depict or persuasively comment on a cultural conflict?
- What different ways do parties involved address and resolve conflict?
- What are long-term effects of conflicts on cultures?
- How can the relationship between police culture and communities of color be improved?
Mastery of Content and Skills
The issue of cultural collision is complex. This investigation challenged students to look beyond their own biases to help them view their communities and themselves in a more objective light. These experiences helped prepare GEMS students to dive deeply into their Better World project.
GEMS students learning about When Cultures Collide understand that the content for this expedition is serious and can be difficult to talk about sometimes. Because of this, the students spent time in class learning about other cultures, and the positive and negative effects cultural collision has on the individuals and the communities alike. Students learned to be open, honest, and sensitive to others' views and beliefs. The issue of cultural collision is complex, which challenged the students to look beyond what they would normally notice and think about themselves and their communities, and really notice what is going on in the world around them every day.
Building Background Knowledge
To prepare the students for the expedition, students first learned about Ghana, Mali, and Songhai, and how these ancient West African empires grew as commercial and cultural trade centers. They then studied the economic and cultural impacts of European exploration and colonization, with a focused case study of the history of Cabo Verde in West Africa. Students worked together in small groups to identify culture collision issues they felt strongly about, such as police brutality and gun violence, and brainstormed solutions for their communities to address these factors.