Cultural Differences via Cartoon Vignettes

Ted Maloney

It’s All Chinese to Me: An Overview of Culture and Etiquette in China, by Pierre Ostrowski, Gwen Penner (2011), Tuttle Publishing.

Although this book’s focus is China, the scenarios it presents help drive home the lesson of delightful diversity in the customs of human interaction. I used it to prepare students for tours I led to China. The book is full of fun cartoons that do a great job of highlighting cultural differences in social situations that we take for granted through our ethnocentric lenses. (For example, why it’s offensive to plant your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice.) These could be used to set up scenarios and ask students how they would respond, or why the Chinese person is doing what they do (and by implication, why are WE doing what we do!) in the same situation.

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