Cultural anthropology: Becoming a minority of one
- A cultural anthropology course assignment involves
students experiencing being a minority in a cross-cultural setting with their reporting to focus on
feelings of discomfort and uncertainty.
- Possibilities for the assignment include attending a church
where the language is unfamiliar or where the attendees are culturally different from the
- The experience should occur during the Cultural Anthropology course and should not just be
a visit to a different denomiination from the one with which the student is familiar. The objective
is to spend time in a group of people whose culture is significantly different from the student.
Going to church in a different culture -- Feeling like a foreigner
Field trip: Becoming a fish out of water
This assignment is designed to send you on a cross-cultural field
trip where you become a minority of one. The worship part is not the central issue. The central
objective of this assignment is to find yourself as a minority in a situation where you feel out of
place and where you may be uncertain about what is expected of you.
In your one to two-page report, don't tell me how you discovered people can worship in any
culture. In fact, don't focus on the worship event itself.
I'm looking for what you felt. I want you to process whatever uncomfortable moments you
felt. What took you out of your comfort zone? You may tell me that you did discover that God
speaks more than one language.
Do not report on an experience you had months or years ago before this course began. It
must be an experience you have had since starting this Cultural Anthropology course.
- Go to a church where the service is in a language you do not speak (Spanish or Korean, for
- Go to a church whose members have a different skin color than you (multi-racial churches do
- Addresses and phones in Oklahoma City for a Hindu temple, Islamic mosques, Jewish
synagogues, and others [ see listing ]
- Those for whom visiting an all-black church would be a cross-cultural experience can find
three to four pages of church advertisements in the print edition of The Black Chronicle,
Oklahoma's weekly African-American newspaper.
Note: Going to a church of a different denomination than the one you are used to (such as a
Baptist going to a Roman Catholic service or a Lutheran going to a Pentecostal one) will not
fulfill the objectives of this assignment. This is not about experiencing different forms of
worship. It is about being in the midst of a group of people very different from you
culturally and perhaps even linguistically.
Sample student reports
-- Howard Culbertson,
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