Don’t You Speak Asian? – Part 2

| CA, USA | Learning | August 1, 2017

(At the beginning of the semester, our class split into five groups, each assigned a chapter from the book to teach to the rest of the class on a particular day. Each group gets a whole class period, and must create a lecture and activity relevant to their assigned chapter. During these student-taught classes, our teacher acts as a student. The second group is teaching about nonverbal and verbal communication, and have discussed accents. For their activity, they ask us to get in our assigned groups, and one person from each group is given a card with an accent, a type of nonverbal behavior, and a word on it. The way to play is that the person with the card holds it up to their forehead and the rest of their group tries to get them to guess the word while speaking in the given accent and displaying the given nonverbal behavior. Our teacher is part of the first group, and the cardholder holds up their card. The accent is “Indian.” Our teacher is an Indian man.)

Me: *to my group members* “Oh, this is going to be bad.”

(The first group finally manages to guess their word, and they sit down. My teacher has a wry look on his face. The second group gets “Middle Eastern accent” on their card.)

Student: “The Middle East isn’t a country…”

(My group is called up, and I take the card. Note that there are two white people in my group, two Mexican people, and one Japanese woman. I hold up the card, and everyone immediately looks at the Japanese woman.)

Japanese Group Member: “Wow, really?”

Me: “I can already tell that whatever happens from here, isn’t going to be good.”

Japanese Group Member: “It’s not.”

(She gets me to guess the word, and we sit down. I look at the card, and it says “Asian accent.” At this point, we’re all pretty unhappy with the teaching group who put together this activity. The fourth and final group goes up. There are two black people in this group, and their guesser is given a card that says “African accent.” The “game” could not be over soon enough. After class, my group is discussing the session overall.)

Me: “So… that activity was the worst.”

The Rest Of My Group: “Oh, absolutely.”

(The worst part is that the cards were not picked at random; the teaching group went through the stack and picked one out specifically for each group.)

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