lesson 06 being a minority whole class discussion
The following assignment exposes you to a new situation, requires you to carefully observe your surroundings and asks you to both describe what you felt and what other individuals might have felt to have you among them.
(This assignment is adapted from Dorothy Marck, 1989, Organizational Behavior Experiences and Cases. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company.)
Your assignment is to go by yourself (you may not take anyone with you) to a place you have never been before, a setting that you really want to learn about, and to observe what you see (and to participate, if appropriate). Please note that these three conditions (doing something you have not done before, sincerely want to learn about being different and visible, and doing it by yourself) are important. The goal is to expose yourself to a culturally or ethnically different environment from the one(s) you’re used to so that you can personally experience cultural differences in an unfamiliar setting. After your field experience, write a 500-word paper that includes the following:
- Date and address of where the experience took place
- Length of time you were there
- Brief description of the setting
- Your reaction to the situation in terms of your behavior/feelings/reactions
- The reaction of other individuals toward you
- Did you behave differently from how you normally behave? If so, in what ways? Please be specific.
- What this experience teaches you about being different from others in your environment.
- Discuss what it felt like to be a minority.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of putting yourself in a situations in which you are in the minority?
- How such an experience might influence your development if you were to live or work in such a setting for a major portion of your life?
- Apply relevant theory and readings in any of the texts or outside text you have read.
- Concluding comments
Listed below are some examples of places students have visited:
- A Protestant visits a Buddhist service
- A Caucasian visits a Black church and student organization
- A hearing individual visits a school for the deaf
- A native Mid-Michigander visits a gathering of international students
- An African American barber shop/salon
- A male visit a nail salon
- An individual with a sight visits a school for the blind
- A woman visits car show/auction
Listed below are some examples of places you should not visit for this assignment because of privacy issues or the learning/experience is limited. The instructor reserves the right to reject the writing based on visits to these or other places where the learning experience is limited and/or not relevant for this assignment. If you are unsure, please check with your instructor.
- Grocery stores or Farmerâ€™s market
- Shelter/Soup Kitchens
- Home Depot/Lowes
- Strip Clubs/Mixer that involve sexual activities
- Alcoholic Anonymous
- Walking around downtown
- Nursing Homes
- Coffee Shops
These are but some of the places visited by previous students and you are not limited to the above settings. Do not choose a setting where you would feel like an intruder into someoneâ€™s privacy. In some situations, you may need to get permission to observe or join the group. Use your good judgment and when in doubt, check in advance with the instructor and the place you intend to visit as to whether your presence is acceptable to the group. Do not place yourself into a situation that may be physically dangerous to you. Choose a setting that you truly want to learn about so you do not feel like an “undercover agent.”
Your paper will be evaluated on the extent to which it is clearly organized. In writing your paper, make sure to make specific references to the readings and their content, and appropriately cite the source when you draw from readings and other literature.