Week 3: Jan 28th – Feb 1st

After our first concept meeting with the client, we took the ideas that our client are really interested in exploring and refined them and came up with two potential concepts that we are excited to work on. Both of them are built with the foundation of creating an experience where guests are encourage to explore the differences and similarities between cultures. Utilizing interactive storytelling techniques to present different cultures to the guests as each encounter within a scene will provide different story threads that help guests construct their own interpretation of the complete narrative. Our goal for this experience is to highlight cultural competency, and provide a space that prompts reflection on how we individually perceive and react to different cultures. With that said, here are the two ideas that we came up with in further details.

One of our teammates, Jehan, was away in India for a friend’s wedding and we thought it’d be great for him to share his experience of the trip and how he felt about his experience with other cultures.

On being American Indian African in India for my best friends wedding.

Hi, my name is Jehan and I’m a Pittsburgh native who recently made his first trip to India.
Although I identify as American, my great grandparents were from India. My parents are from different parts of Africa. My father’s side of the family immigrated to the US and UK, but I’m fortunate enough to see my mother’s side of the family in South Africa. 

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to visit India for the first time for my best friend’s wedding in Rnachi, India. My friend and I went to India for a week. I look Indian, but I didn’t grow up bilingual or very exposed to the culture. Growing up I spoke only English and went to both public and private schools for my upbringing. I completed my undergraduate degree in 2010 and spent the next three living in Columbus Ohio.

My parents and my aunt both had a traditional western marriage as well as an Indian marriage. My time in India was packed. I spent four days in a smaller, more rural area of India called Ranchi (where My friend’s bride-to-be was from) and the remaining day in Dehli, a massive and densely populated of over 26 million people. My time in India was packed with exploration, tradition, and ceremonies. I was immersed in a culture that my ancestors were a part of but as a second generation American, I knew nothing about. When I first arrived, I felt as if I was a species uprooted returning home, ignorant and naive to my ancestralsurroundings.

How did my trip affect my identity? 

I feel more confused about my cultural identity than ever. My experiences in India were incredibly humbling— there was so much to contrast with my everyday life here in Pittsburgh. At the same time, it was incredibly similar to my experience of family and culture in South Africa. My family, like my friends, is huge and close to one another. People expected me to speak the language, and would often ask me in Hindi full on questions that I could only reply to with a shake of the head no, speaking in broken Hindi that I could only speak English.

Judy and Tom – On traveling with my American friends.

Two of my American colleagues that were also invited to the wedding were not having as great a time. I noticed that they constantly felt heckled throughout their journey. Service would take too long, they felt too watched, or their expectations versus outcome would be completely off. This surprised me, as I thought beforehand that these two seemed well rounded and traveled, that they would be able to adapt to a lifestyle so incredibly different than their everyday in Pennsylvania.

Super Bowl Sunday Indian Chips

The day after we got back was the Super Bowl. During the halftime show, one of my friends described the chip dip that Tim had prepared as being ultra creamy and buttery, likening it to Indian food— to which Tim replied, “Don’t be hating on my dip.” 

Westernization of India

India was surprisingly westernized. English was everywhere. 

What does cultural competence mean to me?
Letting yourself feel vulnerable enough to experience another’s culture. 
Where are the differences in culture? 
What does it mean to be an American?
What does multiculturalism mean? What about cultural competence?

What was your experience like? 
Concept of the guide, guiding others through a journey
I.E. local guide showing you the sights, explaining ceremonies and practices.
Cultural tolerance 
Allowing an aspect of culture to unfold infant of or around you

Cultural competence 
giving your time to the unfolding of culture around you

[02:38, 2/4/2019] Jehan: While we were out shopping in Ranchi Judy was making a fuss about how watched and hassled she felt all the time in public– like she stuck out everywhere she went and it was so weird of the people to act differently because she looked different. I was very quick to point out that what she was going through wasn’t that far off what I’ve gone through in rural parts of the south in the USA. It took her a minute to equate the two then she shut up lol

[02:40, 2/4/2019] Jehan: Tim was overly cautious when it came to talking to new people. it was like he was nonstop worried about offending ppl… but he did way better than I thought he would lol