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Activity 3: Cultural Sharing

Activity 3: Cultural Sharing
Activity 3: Cultural Sharing

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • A book for a role play

Preparation for Activity

  • Write "cultural sharing" and "cultural appropriation" on newsprint, and post.

Description of Activity

Tell the group that the ritual to discuss today is storytelling. Ask when they have heard stories in the congregation. Your congregation might tell stories in worship and in religious education sessions. Point out that the Signs of Our Faith group hears a story every time they meet.

Say, in these words or your own:

Unitarian Universalists often tell stories. Sometimes we tell true stories about events in the life of the storyteller or events in the life of someone else. Sometimes we tell stories we call wisdom tales or folk tales. Sometimes they are stories from holy texts, like the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).

Ask:

  • Do you remember where today's story came from? Where?
  • Why are we telling stories from Africa when we do not live in Africa?

Say that, as UUs, we believe there is truth in stories from all over the world and all throughout time. We like to share these stories in ways that honor the original storytellers. One way we do this is by acknowledging where the story comes from. Ask, "Did I tell you where today's story came from, when I told the story to you earlier?"

Another way we show respect for the original storytellers is by trying to not make a lot of changes in the story.

It is also respectful to recognize that the story's meaning for us might be different than it is for the people who originally told the story. For example, we may not pray to the goddess Oshun, but people who belong to the religion of Santeria do.

When we share stories from other people or cultures, we do it respectfully. This is called cultural sharing. If we do it disrespectfully, it is cultural appropriation, which is like stealing.

Use the book as an example. Ask children to role play one child asking to borrow the book and them treating it disrespectfully. They might tell friends it is their book. They might pretend to rip out pages or color in it.

Then ask two different children to role play respectful borrowing of the book.

Say that stories are not the only things we share respectfully from other cultures. We share rituals from other cultures sometimes, too. Again, we always do this respectfully, acknowledging that the ritual comes from another tradition, naming that tradition, and knowing that it does not mean exactly the same to us as it does to people from the culture of origin. In this way, we gain wisdom from other traditions, such as Buddhism, without "playing at" being Buddhists.

Ask participants if they have any questions, and answer any you can.

For more information contact religiouseducation@uua.org.

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