Topic Descriptions for Making Sense of a Culture

Principles of Self-Directed Learning
Initiating, monitoring and evaluating one’s own language- and culture-learning is critical for continued learning. Participants learn the strategies and skills necessary to become more self-directed in their culture- and language-learning as preparation for producing individual culture-learning plans.

Making Cultural Observations
Participants learn how to observe another culture as preparation for visiting cultural locations to record their observations. In addition, they develop their interviewing skills and interview one or more informants. Participants also observe and later analyze a religious ceremony.

Understanding Culture
An understanding of culture enables participants to ask informed questions of their observations, seeking to understand a culture from the point of view of cultural insiders, instead of through the cultural grid of an outside observer. To pose informed questions, participants learn selected elements of culture, especially worldview.

The Influence of Culture on Everyday Life
Cultural values and beliefs influence and even determine how Americans and other peoples organize their thoughts, carry out conversations, fulfill their social roles appropriate to each setting, and promote and oppose change in their societies. Some American cultural patterns are highlighted and participants reflect on cultural patterns of other peoples.

The Influence of Culture on Spiritual Perception
Everyone’s first culture has an enormous influence on their concept and practice of spirituality. Participants learn some of the ways American worldview influences our assumptions of spiritual reality, including how Americans characteristically interpret the Bible.

Reflection on Intercultural Living
Participants reflect on and re-evaluate personal and familial life choices in their current areas of intercultural living in light of the information and experiences of the seminar. These reflections form the basis of individual presentations on how each participant might adapt his/her intercultural living to become more appropriate to a particular culture.

Reflection on Intercultural Service
Participants consider how an intercultural ministry might be adapted appropriately to the cultural realities reflected in their field notes, or to the cultural realities of another ministry. These reflections form the basis of individual presentations on how each participant might adapt his/her intercultural service to become more appropriate to a particular cultural setting.