21 March 2007

Culture Experience Report

This assignment has been created as an extra credit assignment for my online Modern World Literature course. However, it could easily be used, or modified for, many other courses. I have used a version of this in the past. Students have always enjoyed the opportunity and encouragement to experience something completely new.

Culture Experience Report:
Ethnic Movies, Events & Dining

Write about a 300-500 word report on any new ethnic cultural experience you have experienced this semester - not an experience from the past. Choose a culture that is previously unfamiliar to you. For example, you could attend an ethnic cultural event in your community or at the college, view an ethnic film, or dine at an ethnic restaurant. Think beyond overtly Americanized versions of ethnic experiences, such as dining at Taco John's or Olive Garden, or celebrating the Octoberfest at the Green Mill Restaurant. Check the suggestions at the end of this document, and feel free to run your ideas by the instructor.

To practice the habit of critical thinking, using the FIRE model, your report should address the following:

Factual Thinking -
First you must report the relevant facts - the event's name, time, and location, or the film's title, director, and year and information about where you found it, or the name and location of the restaurant. Also, give a brief factual summary of your experience—i.e. what did you see or observe. Avoid lengthy explanation of every detail in the plot, event program, or dining experience.

Evaluative & Rational Thinking -
How did the movie, event, or dining experience make you feel? What factors in the experience caused you to feel this way? If this was a communal experience, how did the others feel, and why do you think they felt this way? How did the experience meet your expectations? Would you recommend this experience to others – why or why not?

Insightful Thinking – “Seeing the Big Picture”
How does this experience (the event, film, or dining experience) connect with the themes or cultures addressed in this course? How does the experience relate to your own life? How might you, or anyone else who has the same experience, be able to apply new information from this experience to a future circumstance?


Give your report an interesting title and double-space the entire document, using the MLA style. If you watched a movie, you must also provide a Work Cited page (please, review the example report). The report must, of course, be word processed and submitted electronically into the course Dropbox. Save it as an RTF (Rich Text Format) document as follows: Lastname_CultureReport (Example: Erpestad_CultureReport)

Some Suggestions:

A. Going to the Movies

Below is a list of films strongly recommended by former students. Most of them are also available in local movie rental stores, Netflix, and the college library. While the citations are for DVD’s, many of the films are also available in video. Your instructor has viewed all the films below and she also has a longer list in case you would like to consider other options.

Amelie. Dir, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. DVD. Miramax, 2001.
This French film tells about a shy waitress Amélie, who returns a long-lost childhood treasure to a former occupant of her apartment. After seeing the effect it has on him, she decides to set out on a mission to make others happy and in the meantime pursues a quirky guy…

Bend It Like Beckham. Dir. Gurinder Chadha. DVD. Searchlight, 2002.
This is a story about a daughter of strict Indian Sikh immigrants living in Britain. Jess is a very gifted football, or soccer, player – much to her parents’ dismay!

Born into Brothels. Dirs. Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman. DVD. Sundance, 2004.
Shot in India, this documentary reveals the world of Calcutta's impoverished red light district. The filmmakers inspired a special group of children of the prostitutes to photograph their environment…

Bride and Prejudice. Dir. Gurinder Chadha. DVD. Miramax, 2004.
This is an Indian Bollywood retelling of Jane Austen’s novel—it has an all-singing, all-dancing cast. The film is full of energy, color, comedy, and human emotion…

City of God. Dir. Fernando Meirelles. DVD. Miramax, 2002.
This Brazilian film is set in Cidade de Deus (City of God), a housing project built in the 1960s that became one of the most dangerous and violent places in Rio de Janeiro. The film tells the stories of many young boys whose lives sometimes intersect...

The Motorcycle Diaries. Dir. Walter Salles. DVD. Sundance, 2004.
This film is based on the journals of Che Guevara, leader of the Cuban Revolution. In his memoirs, Guevara recounts adventures he (in his twenties), and best friend had while crossing South America by motorcycle in the early 1950s…

Europa Europa. Dir. Agniezka Holland. DVD. World Films, 1990.
In this film, a Jewish boy is separated from his family in the early days of WWII. To survive, he poses as a German orphan and is taken into the heart of the Nazi world and eventually becomes a Hitler Youth and falls in love with a German Nazi girl…

Good Bye Lenin! Dir. Woolfgang Becker. DVD. Sony Pictures, 2003.
This film portrays life in the former East Germany in 1989. A young man protests against the regime, and his mother watches the police arresting him and suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma. Some months later, the GDR does not exist anymore and the mother awakes…

Hero. Dir. Zhang Yimou. DVD. Miramax, 2004.
This film is based on events in China during the 3rd century BC. From 475 – 221 BC, when the land was divided into seven major Kingdoms. This was a time of endless brutal wars and much hardship and suffering…

House of Flying Daggers. Dir. Yimou Zhang. DVD. Sony Pictures, 2004.
This Chinese film is set during the reign of the Tang dynast. A secret female organization called "The House of the Flying Daggers" rises and opposes the government…

Kitchen Stories. Dir. Bent Hamer. DVD. ICA Projects, 2004.
This quirky Norwegian film is inspired by a 1950s Swedish study about the perfect kitchen floor plan. The film is an unusual tale about comradeship and camaraderie starts as a research project in which an observer, sitting on a very high chair, watches his subject as he goes about his daily routine…

The Lives of Others. Dir. Florian Henckel Donnersmarck. DVD. Sony Classics, 2007.
Set in 1984 East Germany, before the Fall of the Berlin Wall, this film portrays with remarkable reality the operations of the East German secret police. A group of writers are being under surveillance for anti-government activities…

The Motel. Dir. Michael Kang. Palm Pictures. DVD. 2006.
In this coming-of-age comedy, a womanizing playboy befriends a Chinese-American motel owner’s teenage son…

Run Lola Run. Dir. Tom Tykwer. DVD. Sony Pictures, 1999.
This German film explores events controlled by fate. The film tells about Lola and her boyfriend, whom she desperately tries to save from death by helping him obtain a huge amount of money he carelessly lost…

Smoke Signals. Dir. Sherman Alexie. DVD. Miramax, 1998.
This is a first film written, directed, and co-produced by a Native American. Two mismatched young men live on the same Indian reservation in Idaho and decide to take a road trip together to collect the remains of one man's father…

Tsotsi. Dir. Gavin Hood. DVD. Miramax, 2006.
After shooting a woman and driving off in her car, Tsotsi, a young South-African thug, is surprised to discover a crying infant in the backseat of his car. He grudgingly takes the child home and is forced to care for the child…

B. Dining Out

Yellow Pages:
Check the Yellow Pages in your community phonebook – some also have a separate “Restaurant Menus” section. For example, the Duluth-Superior-North Shore Yellow Pages has a map of restaurant locations and full-page menus for places such as Saigon Café, Lan Chi’s Restaurant, Taste of Saigon, and Hacienda del Sol.

Online Resources:
Check the web for information about local restaurants. For example, the Dining Channel website has restaurant directories for all larger cities, including Duluth.

C. Community Outing

Some of the community events that students have attended in the past include Native American powwows, The Hmong New Year celebration, Feast of the Nations Festival in the Twin Cities, the International Folk Festival in Duluth, world music concerts, a Middle Eastern belly dancing performance, and so on. Below is a list of a few ways to get information about events in your region.

For events taking place at Lake Superior College, check the Campus Wave online publication.

For events taking place in your own community, check the local newspapers. Most offer information online. For example, the Duluth News Tribune publishes a weekly “WAVE” section, with information about concerts, theater plays, musicals, art exhibits, and other cultural events taking place in the region (select the “WAVE” link on the home page). The Minneapolis-St. Paul area StarTribune.com has an “Entertainment” link on its home page.

For further ideas, simply ask others to recommend a movie, event, or restaurant. Don’t be timid to try something new. If you’re not sure what you might be facing or how to proceed with this assignment, don’t hesitate to contact your instructor

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