Month: June 2017


Diversity Program of the Month

School: University of Akron Region: CAACURH
Person in charge: Lydia Brooks Nominator: Rebecca Hohman

Target Population: 48 Time Needed to Organize: 2 hours
Number of People in Attendance: 61 Date(s) of Program: June 19, 2017
Number of People Needed to Organize: 5 Cost of Program: $0.00
On-Campus Population: 2,800 Chapter Size: 28

Origin of Program:

BafaBafa is a leadership training that has been at the University of Akron for many years. The University of Akron purchased the rights to BafaBafa while they were looking for a program to teach students about the growing diversity on our college campus. For this use specifically, members of Residence Hall Program Board were asked to give this presentation to a leadership institute of at-risk high school students that come from schools near the University of Akron who come various backgrounds and cultures.

Word Count: 84

Please give a short description of the program:

BafaBafa is a diversity program that teaches cross-culture competence. In this setting, members of Residence Hall Program Board presented it to at-risk high school students who were participating in the Oelschlager Summmer Leadership Institute. The program begins by dividing the room in half with little instructions to the students, one group is then taken out of the room into another area. From there, the groups become the Alphas and the Betas. Over the course of twenty minutes, they listen to recordings describe their culture and the rules and languages that they must abide by. The Alphan society is patriarchal and places high value on people and building relationships. They play a very mundane game that is more centered on building relationships with students rather than winning. The Beta culture on the other hand is very competitive. They play aggressively and focus only on their own personal score. It is considered offensive to be touched or talked to for a long period of time. However, their society is based on equal opportunity and they do not place a higher value on males or females. Another difference in the Beta Culture is that they speak their very own language, BafaBafa, that they are not allowed to share with any visitors. In fact, in both cultures it is considered incredibly rude to ask another person anything about their culture. Once each group has had time to learn their culture and mastered the games that they play, facilitators begin removing people from their home culture and placing them in the other room. The visitors are given all of the tools to play the new game, but they are given none of the instructions. In fact, facilitators do not even instruct students whether they should try to conform or rebel against the culture. Throughout the course of the program, every member gets to visit the other culture and then return to their home culture. Once all students have visited the other culture, the game ends and everyone reconvenes in the main room for a discussion.

Word Count: 341

Goals of the program:

The goals of BafaBafa are all centered around diversity and teaching patience and acceptance within culture differences. By teaching students one culture and then removing them from it, they are able to gain multiple valuable experiences. Students are able to have the perspective of the outsiders or immigrants who come into a culture without knowing customs or the language. The other goal was to give students the perspective of the host culture that receives visitors and how they are treated. The ultimate goal of this program is to teach compassion for people who are taken or leave their home cultures and find themselves in a foreign place surrounded by a foreign culture.

Word Count: 113

Positive and lasting effects of the program:

This program undoubtedly had a lasting effect of the students who experienced it. They were able to express how they felt when they entered a new environment and how they wish they had not been treated. However, they also acknowledged that the patience they wished they had received was not what they had done to visitors who came to their culture. Another important impact it had on students was that it taught them that qualities they deemed as "rude" or "aggressive" were simply byproducts of their culture instead of the people themselves. They were able to see through this experience how it felt to be an outsider and they all agreed that looking for similarities between cultures is often far more beneficial then focusing on the differences. Ultimately, these students were able to understand how to best respond to people of other cultures and in the city of Akron, Ohio that is very important. This program will have a lasting impact as these students go into our city of Akron and treat incoming refugees with the compassion and patience they learned through BafaBafa.

Word Count: 184

Short evaluation of the program:

There is always a risk with these types of programs that students will not respond well to it. However, in this case it could not be farther from the truth. This program was wildly successful and the students obeyed their cultures without fail. Their willingness to participate and avid participation in the games contributed to the overall success of the program. Not only were the students willing to participate in the games, they posed their own questions and often led the conversation during the final discussion. It was apparent to facilitators that this was not an experience most of these students have had previously but it was one that really changed the way they viewed immigration. The students discussed the outcomes and their perspectives on the issue with enthusiasm and made many connections to how the world and the country views people who were not born in America or do not speak English.

Word Count: 154

How could this program be adapted to other campuses?

This program can be easily adapted to other campuses and teaching diversity is a critical issue for everyone. If a campus wishes to do BafaBafa specifically, they would need to purchase the rights to the program. However, once it has been purchased, the only supplies needed are two rooms and facilitators. This makes for an easy set up and versatile presentation that can be given to pretty much any students in any location. On the other hand, if someone wishes to do a similar program without the specific BafaBafa material, it is also possible. This could be done by creating two polarized cultures and describing every detail of the cultures to two groups of students and then mixing them a few at a time to create the same effect. This game could become as simple or as intricate as each campus wishes but it will always have the same basic ideas and thus the same effect.

Word Count: 157

Date of entry into database: 2017-07-07 08:30:11

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