The Smithsonian Institution’s Mother Tongue Film Festival celebrates cultural and linguistic diversity by showcasing films and filmmakers from around the world in Washington, DC, until May 31, 2021.
Through digital storytelling, the festival amplifies the work of diverse practitioners who explore the power of language to connect the past, present, and future. Since 2016, the annual festival has celebrated International Mother Language Day on February 21. The sixth annual festival will take place via a monthly online screening series from February 21 to May 31, 2021.
Many of these films would be valuable in teaching about cultural differences, if not intercultural dialogue explicitly. The theme this year is The Healing Power of Storytelling.
Culture Buff Games, created by Culture Games, an EdTech developer of interactive games on different cultures, offer games for intercultural trainers (some free, others cost).
The games leverage visual culture scenarios to help foreign students understand how country-specific culture values manifest in contemporary everyday life and are informed by historical events. Designed by interculturalist trainers, these learner driven interactive games emphasize problem solving and practical application of cultural knowledge. Our games can be trainer facilitated or used as self-directed learning tool. There are multiple sets of games for American Values, British Values, Chinese Values and Indian Values.
CID would like to make available on this site a collection of exercises on topics related to intercultural dialogue, and designed to help people learn to engage in intercultural dialogues.
As a reminder, intercultural dialogue has been defined on this site as “the art and science of understanding the Other” (courtesy of Peter Praxmarer, as explained here).
The goal is to first gather a number of such exercises and, second, make them available to all those who follow this site. This request may be interpreted broadly, both in terms of content (so that intercultural competence, conflict resolution, conflict management, negotiation, peacekeeping, etc. would all be appropriate foci), and in terms of type of exercise (not only discussion but also writing, video, interview, graphic design, etc. could all be relevant examples).
Please send examples, and/or questions, to Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, via email.
de Luca, Antonio, & Riyait, Jaspa. (2020, June 6). What we look like: 11 Asian-American artists celebrate their experiences of culture and identity with illustrated self portraits. New York Times.
The Times asked artists of multicultural backgrounds to draw self-portraits, and published the results. It’s an interesting exercise, and a good possibility for a Intercultural Communication course assignment. Most students have several cultural identities in their background after all, even if they and their parents were born in the USA.
As has been pointed out on this site, children who grow up with parents having different cultural backgrounds, and who learn to interact in multiple cultural contexts, often learn to be particularly good at intercultural dialogue. (For further discussion, see KC12: Third Culture Kids, and KC94: Cross-Cultural Kids.)
Racial Justice Resources, available for free, from University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, USA.
The University of Minnesota Press is committed to challenging white supremacy, police violence, and unequal access to criminal justice, education, and resources in Minnesota, the United States, and throughout the world. To promote understanding and action for change, they are making a series of antiracist books available to all to read online for free through May 15, 2021.
These include: Living for Change by Grace Lee Boggs, and Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify, by Carolyn Lee Holbrook, among others, for a set of 30 ebooks.
There are a large number of documents currently being posted online with suggestions for what to read or teach related to anti-racism. Given that dialogue across racial boundaries is one form of intercultural dialogue, the topic is particularly relevant to CID. For a one-page introduction, see KC97: Anti-Racist Education.
Race is happening. Never mind that race is always happening but it is especially happening now, urgently happening. . .
– Lauren Michele Jackson
Here are a few of the reading lists currently circulating:
Chicago Public Library. (2020). Anti-racist reading list from Ibram X. Kendi.
EmbraceRace. (N.D.). Looking for excellent “diverse” books for children? Start here!
Flicker, Sarah Sophie, & Klein, Alyssa. (2020). Anti-racism resources.
Stamborski, Anna, Zimmermann, Nikki, & Gregory, Bailie. (2020). Scaffolded anti-racism resources.
and a set of further links can be found here:
Washington Area Women’s Foundation. (2020). Anti-racism resources.
Related information is here:
Black Lives Matter. (2020). What matters .
After you’ve read some of those sources, listen to this interview:
Holmes, Linda (Host). (2020, June 10). The limitations of an anti-racist reading list [Radio broadcast]. National Public Radio.
or read this essay by the author interviewed on that radio show:
Jackson, Lauren Michele. (2020, June 4). What is an anti-racist reading list for? Vulture.
Abe, a film by Brazilian director Fernando Grostein Andrade, uses fusion foods as a way to approach intercultural dialogue.
Finding one’s identity is a challenge everyone faces, but few have the pressure that 12-year-old Abe feels as the son of an Israeli mother and Palestinian father. Though his parents have raised him in a secular household, both sets of grandparents insist he chooses between being Jewish or Muslim. Abe’s passion for food allows him some escape from the escalating family tensions. While exploring Brooklyn to discover new foods, he meets Chico, a Brazilian chef who believes “mixing flavors can bring people together.”
If you use other films in your work or teaching that relate to intercultural dialogue, please take a moment to send an email with a short note, as CID is currently preparing a list of such films to post as a resource.
Knowledge is the Beginning, a documentary produced and directed by Paul Smaczny about Daniel Barenboim, Edward Said, and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
At least there is a chance for dialogue.
Barenboim and Said established the orchestra to bring together young musicians from across the political divide in the Middle East. They hoped that music would help to bring understanding and tolerance of different beliefs and cultures. The name comes from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s collection of poems, West-Eastern Divan. The film covers the years 1999-2004; the orchestra is still performing today, and makes a point of putting on concerts in the musicians’ home countries whenever possible. In 2007 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon named Barenboim UN messenger of peace, and in 2016 the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra was named a UN Global Advocate for Cultural Understanding. The conversations among young musicians from a variety of countries would make this a good choice of film for someone teaching about intercultural dialogue.
Those wishing more information might read: Barenboim, D., & Said, E. (2002). Parallels and paradoxes: Explorations in music and society. London, UK: Bloomsbury.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Mother Tongue Film Festival celebrates cultural and linguistic diversity by showcasing films and filmmakers from around the world in Washington, DC.
Through digital storytelling, the festival amplifies the work of diverse practitioners who explore the power of language to connect the past, present, and future. Since 2016, the annual festival has celebrated International Mother Language Day on February 21. The fifth annual festival took place February 20–23, 2020. Many of the shorter films are available to stream in full on their website.
Many of these films would be valuable in teaching about cultural differences, if not intercultural dialogue explicitly. Just the easily accessible short films range from Pire, a music video with lyrics in Mapuzugun, the Mapuche language of Argentina, to Grá & Eagla, following an Irish bilingual comedian using Gaeilge [Gaelic], to Puhi Toprao / To Be Happy, telling the creation story of the Yanomami in Venezuela in their own language.
LIST(e)N invites people with opposing viewpoints on some of the most divisive issues – guns, abortion, and immigration — to listen to each other. The documentary features participants whose personal lives deeply intertwine with the topics, including one of the survivors of the Parkland, FL school shooting. As the exchanges unfold, and the participants take the time to get to know each other, moments of unexpected emotional connection and understanding arise.
Documentary director Juliana Tafur has now announced a program at universities, The Day of Listening, consisting of:
- A screening of the award-winning 80-minute film LIST(e)N, showcasing how listening can have a positive impact on people with opposing viewpoints.
- A post screening session that highlights the tools needed for deep listening, which are essential for exercising meaningful connections with ourselves and others.
- An experience-based component, with mediated encounters between students, where they get to discuss important yet non-controversial topics (to be selected with the university, based on their priorities), and have the students put into practice their newly-acquired deep listening skills. *The idea here is to achieve connection between the students, just like we did during the encounters we mediated for the film.
So far, LIST(e)N has been screened at Northwestern University, Florida International University and The Ohio State University; University of Miami is coming up soon.