Practica: Cultural Scavenger Hunt

Connection, conversation, discovery. Sending a small group out to explore their new environment can be an enjoyable as well as educational and satisfying experience. It is an exercise I recommend if you have a learning group from various countries or regions, exchange students, etc., who find themselves in a new place and culture for the first time to stay for a while.

Three or four people, guided by a local participant (if needed to speak the language or know the terrain) can be sent out to explore the new culture with a focus on finding a list of things to find that are typical of the culture or region but likely to be alien to newcomers. The focus could be a grocery store, a shopping mall, historical monuments, interviewing locals...the possibilities are endless on the street, on campus or online. It is not just important to find the things, but to discover their meanings and uses in the local cultural narrative.

If online, the search could be related to course issues, topics, etc., and done by individuals, though I prefer pairs, as the joy of surprises, of discovery and sharing, not just the information, are important outcomes and motivators to learning and retention,

Class or group debrief can be not just things brought back to show and tell, not just word reports, but even photographs, sound recordings, etc., which can be played back, so the entire assembly can share. Breaking the class into small groups and giving each different specific lists of things to scavenge will make reporting back interesting for all when the learning group reassembles.

There is an excellent collection of scavenger hunt questions to be found here, though the Internet is loaded with possibilities to stimulate your creative imagination if you just search for "scavenger hunt". One of my favorites for the start of the school year in the uni is their Human Scavenger Hunt Questions list, a good alternative to Bingo if you have a large class or group. Of course, you can customize the questions for your specific group.

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