Looking at Ourselves and Others
Goals of Looking at Ourselves and Others
During Peace Corps service, Volunteers look closely at the assumptions and values that shape their perspectives as Americans. They learn about themselves as individuals and as representatives of a multifaceted American culture. Similarly, the activities contained in Looking at Ourselves and Others will challenge World Wise students to become more conscious of the values they share with their families, friends, and communities. The materials also provide students with analytical tools that help combat stereotypical thinking and enhance cross-cultural communication. As your students learn about other countries and cultures, they—like Peace Corps Volunteers—will begin to recognize that individuals and groups hold diverse views of the world. They will realize this diversity often stems from the unique systems of values, beliefs, experiences, and knowledge that link people within cultural groups. In “Neighbors”3 (see below), Returned Volunteer Orin Hargraves illustrates the profound effect of looking at others from a new perspective. The activities in this guide are designed to help students develop the habit of viewing people and places from multiple points of view.
Looking at Ourselves and Others, a revision of an earlier World Wise Schools publication of the same title, introduces students to the concepts of perspective, culture, and cross-cultural relations. Specifically, the readings and activities in this guide are designed to help students:
Recognize and appreciate differences in perception among individuals and cultures;
Define culture and recognize its role in developing perceptions of ourselves and others;
Challenge assumptions, promote cross-cultural awareness, and provide opportunities to practice the behaviors that make cross-cultural communication possible.
Learning from the experience of Peace Corps Volunteers
The personal experiences of Peace Corps Volunteers are included in the introduction to each section of this guide to help teachers prepare for the lessons that follow. But these also have value as educational resources for students. They could be used to supplement reading materials, to illustrate the use of various writing techniques, to spark interest in volunteerism, and to learn more about other cultures and the Peace Corps.