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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Serious Doodling

North Africa and the Middle East, Jordan
Grades 6-8
Arts & Music, Cross-Cultural Understanding, Language Arts & Literature

Students examine cartoons drawn by a Volunteer serving in the country of Jordan.


  1.  Ask students what they know about Jordan. How many people live there? [Around 6 million.] What kind of government do they have? [Constitutional monarchy.] What language is spoken? [Arabic.] What are some famous landmarks? [Petra, an ancient city built into a rock canyon, which was featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; Jerash, a site known for its Roman ruins; the Dead Sea; Amman, the capital of Jordan.] How large is Jordan? [1,635 square kilometers, roughly the size of Indiana.] What is the religious breakdown in Jordan? [92% Sunni Muslim, 6% Christian, 2% other.]
  2. Tell students that they will be looking at some cartoons drawn by a Peace Corps Volunteer living in Jordan. Ask them where they look to find cartoons. [Newspapers, graphic novels, comic books, magazines.] How can cartoons be serious and funny at the same time? What are features of cartoons you like? [Humor, dialogue, drawing style, length, subject.]
  3. Pass out the cartoon "Kilos," by Carla Grossklaus. Ask students where they think this is taking place. [A market.] Why? [Vegetables, the use of the word "kilos."] How many pounds are there in a kilogram? [2.2 pounds.] Why is Carla surprised that she has to buy in kilos? [Because in the United States, she is used to buying in pounds and ounces.] Why is this a problem for Carla? [Because it's sometimes difficult for one person to eat a kilogram of bananas or carrots—for example—before they spoil.] Why might this not be a problem for Jordanians? [Because consumers usually buy for a family or a larger number of people.] How might Carla resolve this situation? [Bargain with the vendor, go to another vendor, live with a Jordanian family, not buy certain items at the market.]
  4. Pass out the cartoon "Low Profile." Ask students to point out Carla in the drawing. What identifies her as someone who is possibly foreign? [Backpack, pants, sunglasses, head not covered.] What does Carla mean by, "All go for low-profile mode?" [She thinks that by wearing long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and not making eye contact that she is blending in.] Is Carla blending in? Why is it important that Carla wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and not make eye contact? [In order to maintain the values of Jordanians and respect their culture.]
  5. Pass out the cartoon "Any Town." What is happening in the drawing? [Carla is trying to determine if the bus is the correct bus. By the time she determines that it is indeed the correct bus, the vehicle has departed.] Why does it take so long for Carla to read the name and destination on the bus? [The writing is in Arabic, which is a non-Roman-letter-based alphabet. Thus, it takes her a few moments to sound out the letters to translate them.] What does this drawing say about the importance of learning the local language? [The more of a local language that you know, the easier it is to navigate both geographically and culturally.]
  6. Have students draw a cartoon about a time felt different from others around them. Encourage students to share their cartoons with the class.
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