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Is it possible to really completely understand a culture different from one’s own? Our Grade IX students of the residential wing wrestled with this and questions of prejudice in a session held for them yesterday.

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Our students chose props of their choice to enact a tribal ritual assigned to them with specified prompts, while the other group of students were tasked with understanding and reporting the event as ‘National Geographic’ reporters making a mock documentary. With djembe rhythms and improvisation, the exercise helped students understand that cultures different from our own or unfamiliar to us are not ‘inferior’ or ‘under-developed’ in any way and operate with their own norms and codes.

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The lively discussion that followed saw our students ponder over questions such as ‘How would aliens perceive our morning assembly at school as a ritual?’, ‘How would someone from a remote landlocked tribe perceive humans interacting at a shopping mall?’ and came to the conclusion that ‘modern’, ‘developed’ or ‘westernized’ cultures had their own rituals and artefacts as well, although our familiarity with them makes them seem self-evident and ‘normal’.

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