Running: A Lesson Plan for Physical Education Teachers
(Spring 2012 - Volume 25, Number 1) By Angene Wilson
I’m not sure how physical education teachers consider the cross-cultural nature of sport. Do students occasionally learn folk dances from other countries and cultures? Do they watch how goals were scored in soccer games from the World Cup in South Africa? Two articles in spring issue of WorldView, plus a cross-cultural dilemma from Building Bridges: A Peace Corps Classroom Guide to Cross-Cultural Understanding, offer an opportunity to think about how running might be perceived in other countries. Since running is often a passion for current Peace Corps volunteers and may not be understood in the host countries, how do volunteers answer the question “Why are you running?” How do Volunteers negotiate the cultural divide over jogging or running?
Students will read about Peace Corps volunteers running in Bulgaria and Turkmenistan, consider how running is perceived in two other countries, and discuss a cross-cultural dilemma “Jogging Alone” from the Dominican Republic.
- “Letter from Turkmenistan: Running in Forgotten Lands, A World Away from the Pacific Northwest” and
- “Letter from Bulgaria: Open Minds and Open Trails, PCVs train for the Athens Marathon” in Spring 2012 WorldView Magazine.
- “Jogging Alone,” cross-cultural dilemma at end of lesson plan.
Assign Letter from Turkmenistan to half students and Letter from Bulgaria to other half. Ask students to summarize what they learn about how running is perceived in Turkmenistan or Bulgaria. Insert just a little social studies by asking students to find both countries on a world map and explain what they learn about Turkmenistan or Bulgaria as countries from the articles. Then ask students to read the “Jogging Alone” cross-cultural dilemma below. In pairs (one who has read the Turkmenistan article, one the Bulgarian article), ask students to come up with a way, thinking back on articles they read, for the Dominican Republic volunteer to solve the jogging dilemma. Those solutions could be shared in a co-written paragraph or verbally in a class discussion.
Jogging Alone: Resolving a Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding
“When I first arrived in my village in the Dominican Republic, I began to have a problem with my morning jogging routine. I used to jog every day when I was at home in the United States so when I arrived in my village in the Dominican Republic, I set myself a goal to continue jogging two miles every morning. I really liked the peaceful feeling of jogging alone as the sun came up. But this did not last for long. The people in my village simply couldn’t understand why someone would want to run alone. Soon people began to appear at their doorways offering me a cup of coffee; others would invite me to stop in for a visit. Sometimes this would happen four or five times as I tried to continue jogging. They even began sending their children to run behind me, so I wouldn’t be lonely. They were unable to understand the American custom of exercising alone. I was faced with a dilemma. I really enjoyed my early morning runs. However, I soon realized that it’s considered impolite in Dominican villages not to accept a cup of coffee, or stop and chat, when you pass people who are sitting on their front steps. I didn’t want to give up jogging. But at the same time I wanted to show respect for the customs of the Dominican Republic – and not be viewed as odd or strange.”
Note: This story comes form Building Bridges: A Peace Corps Classroom Guide to Cross-Cultural Understanding, published by Coverdell WorldWise Schools and the National Geographic Education Foundation. For a worksheet on this story, or to download the publication, see www.peacecorps.gov/wws/publications/bridges/index.cfm Click on lesson 5, “Resolving a Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding.”