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Archive for the ‘World Edition’ Category

CultureGrams—Where in the world?: Transportation

Modes of transportation are influenced by many factors, including economic resources, population density, geography, climate, and tradition. If you’re from the United States, you probably get around primarily in a private vehicle, but that’s only one of many modes of transportation used every day by people around the world.

The following photos are from the CultureGrams photo gallery.

Can you guess where each photo was taken?

Photo 1

Photo 1

 

Photo 2

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 3

 

 

Photo 4

Photo 4

Photo 5

Photo 5

Photo 6

Photo 6

Photo 7

Photo 7

Photo 8

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Photo 9

Photo 9

uae

Photo 10

uk

Photo 11

vietnam

Photo 12

We’ve posted the answers in the comments section of this post. Check them out and tell us how well you did!

Don’t forget that CultureGrams has thousands of pictures gathered from around the globe. Each image in our slideshow gallery and photo gallery is downloadable and available for personal use.

CultureGrams: Critical Thinking

A great way to foster critical thinking and engaged learning in your students is to help them learn to ask good questions, to push beyond the obvious, to see purely factual data points in a broader context. Asking good questions promotes independent thinking, stimulates curiosity, increases understanding, and helps people see how seemingly disparate ideas connect.

We encourage teachers to use CultureGrams to promote critical thinking in their classrooms. There are many ways to do so. You might ask students, for example, why many major metropolitan areas are often located in coastal areas or near major waterways. Take Australia, China, Canada, or Brazil, for example. Look at where many of the largest cities are concentrated. Why aren’t the cities scattered more evenly across these countries? The answers to these questions may vary, depending on the country. You could discuss the significance of trade and access to foreign markets; the importance of water to sustain life and as a means of travel; the influence of history, geography, and climate on settlement and growth; etc. Encourage students to ask why things are the way they are. This can lead them to insights they may not have had previously.

Brazil Simple Map

Brazil Map via ProQuest CultureGrams

You could also ask students to think about what countries in a particular region have in common besides just occupying a particular part of the world. Have students think about the many of the island nations of Oceania, for instance. Do they share common geographical features or similar climates? Are there common languages, a common religion, or similar cultural attitudes? How do their economies compare? What common challenges do countries in Oceania face? Also, what differentiates countries in the region? And what is the impact of these similarities and differences on the region as a whole?

Tahiti

Aerial View, Tahiti, French Polynesia (photo by Peter Stone via the CultureGrams Photo Gallery)

Another fruitful area of exploration might be to ask students how the content in one CultureGrams category impacts the content in another. How does the land and climate in a particular country influence the economy? How has a country’s history shaped its linguistic or religious development? How do a culture’s attitudes about family affect how they view dating and marriage?

And lastly, you could ask students to compare statistical data between two or more countries. What does the data reveal? How can the differences in data be explained? For example,  below is a customized table that provides data related to health and life expectancy for Belgium and Uganda. What does the data reveal? What might be some of the root causes for the differences in the numbers?

Belgium Uganda Comparison

To be clear, teachers will need to monitor these kinds of activities/discussions to make sure that students are coming to sound conclusions and not speculating wildly about cause and effect. But that process in itself can be useful in teaching students how to analyze factual information.

Of course, there are many other areas in CultureGrams that you could use to foster critical thinking, but we hope this gets you started thinking of some of the possibilities. Please let us know if you have any great ideas on this topic or if you come up with interesting activities that foster critical thinking.

CultureGrams: Eid al-Adha

livestock.EID

Livestock bazaar in Kashgar (Xinjiang, China) ahead of Eid al-Adha, by Keith Tan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via Flickr

Today marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha celebrations for over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. The holiday, meaning “Festival of the Sacrifice”, commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and is celebrated during the twelfth month of the lunar calendar. People visit friends and family and exchange gifts. Many families slaughter a sheep on this day as a symbol of the story of Abraham. Tens of millions of animals are sacrificed around the world in the first two days of the celebration. Families who cannot afford their own animal may join other families and pool their money together to buy an animal. The meat from the sacrifice is shared with family and friends, but a portion must also be reserved for the poor.

rice.vendor.EID

A street vendor makes food at the livestock bazaar in Kashgar (Xinjiang, China) ahead of Eid al-Adha, by Keith Tan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via Flickr

The holiday takes place following the the Muslim Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. In Saudi Arabia, the government declares a 12-day holiday that includes the days of the Hajj and the following Eid al-Adha holiday. Traditionally, Eid al-Adha festivities lasted about 4 days. Today, celebrations range in length between different countries–ranging from as little as 3 days (in the Philippines), 9 days (in Gulf states) and 12 days (Saudi Arabia). Learn more about some of the different countries that celebrate Eid al-Adha with CultureGrams: see Egypt, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Albania, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

CultureGrams: One Religion, Many Practices

UzbekistanMosque.header

Mir-e Arab Mosque, Bukhara, Uzbekistan by Robert Wilson (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr

Did you know that there are over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide? Across this massive group, there is a considerable range of religious practice and doctrinal interpretation. Catholicism and Buddhism have similarly large and diverse populations whose adherents can be found in very different geographic regions and societies. To better understand how religious belief impacts people, students need to understand that most religions have a range of beliefs and practices. The following activity from the CultureGrams Activities PDF helps students to explore differences within one religion across different cultures.

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Mosque in Isfahan, Iran by Babak Farrokhi (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Teaching Activity: One Religion, Many Practices

Time requirement
Preparation: 10 minutes
In-class : 1 hour and 30 minutes, two different days

Research and Writing
Grade level: 6–8; can be modified for other age groups
Objective: Students will compare the practice of a single religion across multiple countries and interviews.

Materials: CultureGrams Online Edition—Interviews

Instructions
1. Have students read three interviews with people who practice the same religion. Some options are Islam (Qosimov: Uzbekistan, Djiba: Senegal, and Joud: Jordan), Catholicism (Javier: Bolivia, Trina: Costa Rica, and Petrosse: Mozambique), and Buddhism (Sai: Cambodia, Dawa: Nepal, and Chhun: Cambodia).
2. What differences do students notice in the way the interviewees practice their religion? Differences may be found in how often a person attends worship services, how important they consider religion in their life, ways they worship, and holidays they celebrate.
3. Now have students read the Religion section of each interviewee’s country in the World Edition report. What do these sections say about the religion? How does the information in the report compare to the information in the interviewees’ answers? How does the practice of the religion vary between countries?
4. Have students write a short essay on their observations about the ways a single religion varies in different areas and between individual observers of that religion. They may also speculate on why this could be.

*See pg. 55-56 of the CultureGrams Teaching Activities PDF  to view the education standards that are targeted in this activity.

mosque.bahrain

Mosque in Bahrain by Denise Krebs (CC BY 2.0) via Fickr

CultureGrams: Faces of the World Interviews

 

Interview Page

Faces of the World Interview Page via ProQuest CultureGrams

Our Faces of the World Interviews are one of the most popular features in CultureGrams. Users enjoy learning about how ordinary individuals–both adults and children–within a particular country see the world, what they do each day, what they worry about, what matters to them, etc. The interviews provide an intimate glimpse into what daily life is like for these people. Occasionally, however, users have questions about some of the content in the interviews. So we would like to clarify our editorial policy as it relates to the Faces of the World Interviews.

  1. The interviews represent the views of native inhabitants of various countries around the world. They are a reflection of how those individuals see their lives and the countries and cultures they live in. We don’t edit the interviews for content unless there is something that is incomprehensible or unless they say something that would be inappropriate for our users. As much as possible, we try to preserve the original voice and thoughts of the interviewees, only editing for clarity’s sake, as needed.
  2. Although our collection of interviews is growing, the total number is still relatively small (400+), so we make no claims that the small number of interviews we offer per country are necessarily representative of majority views within a particular country. These people speak for themselves. We expect that there will be greater variety as we add more interviews, but there is no way that a small number of interviews can adequately represent the whole or capture the diversity of opinion and experience within an entire country.
  3. In a few rare instances, users have suggested that some of the opinions represented in the interviews are overly negative. However,  as noted above, the goal of these interviews is to have real people tell us what their daily lives are like and what matters to them. It is their opinions that count when it comes to the interviews, not ours. Also, our goal with CultureGrams more broadly isn’t about promoting any particular country.  Instead, we aim to capture some of the diversity of human experience and to do so honestly. And we attempt to present this information as fairly and objectively as we can.

Kenya Interview Page via ProQuest CultureGrams

CultureGrams: Now with Google Drive Integration

CultureGrams is excited to announce the addition of brand new feature to our site, Google Drive integration! CultureGrams users can now export any text from the World, Kids, States, and Provinces Editions directly to their Google Drives. This important new functionality allows students and teachers to more easily integrate CultureGrams content into their daily cloud-based workflow. Curious to see how it works? Check out the demo video below to see how you can start saving your favorite cultural reports, recipes, famous people, and interviews to your Google Drive. Enjoy!

Hibiscus Tea: an African Tradition

Enjoy a good cup of hibiscus tea? You’re not alone. This tart, red herbal tea can be found all over Africa–from Côte d’Ivoire to Sudan. The hibiscus plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa), commonly known as roselle, has been used for hundreds of years in beverages and traditional medicines in various regions of Africa.

Dried Hibiscus in Aswan souk (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

In North Africa and the Sahel region, hibiscus tea is popular as a hot or cold drink, and is usually sweetened with sugar. Hibiscus iced tea, known as karkadé in Egypt, is sold by numerous street vendors in Cairo. In Sudan, hibiscus tea is commonly served to guests. However, Sudanese generally prefer to soak the hibiscus flowers in cold water for two days, rather than boil them (as in Egypt), a method that some believe makes the tea more flavorful.

In West Africa, hibiscus tea (known as bissap) is popular in countries like Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal–especially iced and sweetened with sugar. Here, as in Egypt, bissap is a popular drink sold by street vendors; on the beaches in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire, vendors sell the drink iced or frozen, and often in plastic bags. In West Africa, bissap is often flavored with fresh mint leaves or ginger. Below is a recipe for bissap from our Côte d’Ivoire country report. Enjoy!

Jus de Bissap

Karkadeh, Kerma, Sudan (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Hibiscus Juice/Iced Tea

Ingredients

1 cup dried red hibiscus flowers

1.5 liters water

A few fresh mint leaves (optional)

1 cup super-fine sugar 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Rinse the hibiscus flowers and put them in a pot with the water.
  2. Cover the pot, bring the water to a boil, and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the liquid from the heat and add the mint leaves. Let steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Pour through a strainer into another bowl to separate the flowers and mint from the liquid.
  5. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix with a wooden spoon.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and serve cold.

Hint

This drink may also be flavored with a combination of 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon orange blossom extract, or with a combination of 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon strawberry extract. The mint leaves are optional but are commonly added.

CultureGrams Activity: Create Your Own Flag

Students of all ages love creative projects where they can use their imaginations to create something that is both fun to make and is a reflection of their personalities. So if you’d like to find a creative educational project for your class, we have just the thing for you. This activity from our CultureGrams Teaching Activities PDF provides an opportunity for students to learn about national flags and how they represent a country’s culture and values. Students will also have a chance to draw upon what they learn in studying national flags to create flags that represent their own values, interests, and culture.

AntiguaandBarbuda_flag_lg

Flag of Antigua and Barbuda via CultureGrams

Flag Creation

Objective Students will discuss the symbolism and meaning of various national flags and then create flags to represent themselves.

Grade level K–5

Time requirement

Preparation: 40 minutes

In-class: 50 hours

Materials

  • Art materials—construction paper, scissors, glue, pens, etc.
  • Various international flags (all are available in the CultureGrams Flag Gallery)

Instructions

  1. Introduce the concept of flags as works of art that use color, design, and symbols to convey meaning.
  2. Show students the international flags you have selected and explain the symbols used on them. (If you have a subscription to CultureGrams, each country’s flag image and interpretation is available on its landing page.) For example, in the flag of South Africa, the colors symbolize the unity of the nation’s races. In the flag of the United Kingdom, the crosses represent England, Scotland, and Ireland. In the flag of Greece, the cross symbolizes the Greek Orthodox Church.
  3. Assign students to create a unique flag representing themselves, their family, or their city, state, or country of birth. Encourage them to find colors and symbols that stand for something important to them.
  4. Have students display their flags for the class and explain their use of color, symbolism, and design

CultureGrams has a Flag Gallery for both the World and Kids editions as well as for the States and Provinces editions. So there are plenty of flags for students to look at as examples.

Mother’s Day Around the World

“Mother and baby ducks” [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Do you know about any Mother’s Day traditions in other countries? This article gives some interesting facts about Mother’s Day in ten different countries. For example, did you know that in Japan, the carnation is also the main flower associated with Mother’s Day? Or that in the UK, Mother’s Day developed out of a tradition called Mothering Sunday that was celebrated as early as the 16th century? Or that many countries in the Arab world (including Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon) celebrate Mother’s Day on March 21st, at the beginning of the spring equinox? Other traditions are sobering: in France, in the years following WWI, the government awarded medals to French mothers of large families–as a way of honoring them and their contribution to rebuilding France’s population following the war.  

While many countries celebrate Mother’s Day in ways similar to the US–including family gatherings, presents, and flowers, many celebrate mothers in other ways. For example, in Ethiopia, people honor mothers in the three-day Antrosht festival, which follows the fall rainy season. During this festival, communities gather to enjoy large meals and to sing and dance. In India, a festival called Durga Puja celebrates the Hindu goddess Durga, and lasts for several days. Explore different cultures and families in this National Geographic photo gallery of mothers and children around the world. Below is a bit more information about different Mother’s Day traditions from CultureGrams.

“Flag map of Thailand” [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Thailand

Several holidays celebrate the monarchy of Thailand. Celebrations include a national holiday for Queen Sirikit; her birthday (August 12th) is referred to as Mother’s Day, since the queen is revered as the mother of all Thai people.  Mother’s Day in Thailand honors both Queen Sirikit and Thai mothers. During the month of August, the streets and city centers are decorated with lights and feature large portraits of Queen Sirikit. The holiday is filled with parades and ceremonies. On Mother’s Day, people decorate their homes with flags, lights, and portraits of the queen. White jasmine flowers are common decorations as a symbol of maternal love and are a common Mother’s Day gift. Learn more about Thai culture and holidays with CultureGrams.

El Salvador

Mother’s Day is an important holiday for Salvadorans. Some schools host special breakfasts or brunches for mothers and, even before Mother’s Day was declared a state holiday in 2016, many schools dismissed their students to allow them to spend the day with their mothers. Mothers and grandmothers are given gifts and treated to one or more meals throughout the day. A popular way to recognize mothers is with a mariachi band hired to play and sing a few songs at the woman’s home, either in the morning or at night, during a dinner or party for the mother. Learn more about El Salvador with CultureGrams.

Flag-map_of_El_Salvador

“Flag-map of El Salvador” [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CultureGrams: New South Sudan Interviews!

One of the great resources CultureGrams provides is Interviews with people from all around the world—from Morocco to Papua New Guinea to Tajikistan and beyond. From these interviews, you can learn all kinds of things about what it’s like to live in a different country through the personal experiences of real people who live there, including their daily routines, their favorite foods, their roles in their families, their biggest worries, and more. So far in 2016, we’ve added more than 30 new interviews!

Our newest interviews are four from South Sudan. Check out the excerpts below to get a glimpse of what life is like in this young country that gained its independence from Sudan just 5 years ago. Click the links to go to the full interviews.

Mawa; age 28; Juba, South Sudan
“I speak Madi as my primary language, a language with clicking sounds that is widely spoken in the Eastern Equatoria state. I can also speak Acholi. This all comes as a result of my experiences as a refugee in Uganda, which helped me to understand people from different backgrounds. […] Additionally, I learned Arabic, which is the national language, and English in school. I use these languages for communication with locals and foreigners.”

Mary; age 28; Juba, South Sudan
“I strongly identify with my ethnic group, the Nuer. Our culture is different from other ethnic groups in South Sudan. Both my mother and father kept their culture and traditions. They don’t have knowledge about school or church. Both parents believe in only the traditional god. […] As the second-born child, I follow my mother’s activities, such as cooking food and fetching water.”

Gatwech; age 17; Juba, South Sudan
“All young men want to go to school so they can have a better future. Most of my friends don’t go to school, and this is what I hate the most because I want them to share in the same activities as me. Sometimes, I try to talk to them about the importance of school and they tell me that they understand, but later they disappear. Some of them explain that they can’t join me at school because their parents don’t have enough money to pay for their education and that hurts me.”

Nyakuma; age 10; Juba, South Sudan
“My favorite food is our local food called walwal, sorghum porridge, mixed with either milk from a cow or powdered milk; it may also be eaten with meat sauces. Walwal is a major part of our diet at home. We sometimes change what we eat once in a while when we want lentils and bread. I also love kebabs (skewered meat) and fruits. I like apples better than all the other fruits. My daddy knows this, so he brings me an apple when I want it.”

To learn even more about life in South Sudan, check out the CultureGrams South Sudan World report, Kids report, slideshows, and videos!

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