The Latecomers' Weeks 2 & 3 Action Cards
Having been assigned the “Dealing with Stereotypes on Foreign Ground” topic to focus on, we got in touch with our American collaborators on the forum, as well as the individuals and groups in our ’mega-group’. From there, we exchanged contact information and started corresponding in a WhatsApp group chat. We got to know our American counterparts quite well and really enjoyed exchanging ideas and opinions on the project.
Since the Texan students are in charge of editing and shooting the video, we presented them with our ideas in order to get a better understanding of what was feasible for them and what wasn’t. Our first idea was to shoot an interview-style video, whereby the American students would ask the Serbian ones some questions and vice versa. An alternative idea was to shoot scripted sketches covering the different ways in which Serbs and Americans treat different people, namely minorities, and the reasons behind such treatments. This idea branched out further into a couple of more possible varieties – shooting ’randomly’ chosen situations in both the States and Serbia, without focusing too much on the differences or shooting only US-set situations involving the treatment of minorities and people of colour, in light of the longstanding discrimination against African-Americans and the recent Asian hate crimes. Stephen and Morgan, our American peers, liked all ideas, though particularly the one featuring an interview format. Stephen sent us an array of questions he had to come up with for his class that would suit the interview format well.
On their request, we shared some of the most common misconceptions and stereotypes about the Serbian people and helped them gain a better understanding of our culture and society, e.g. the experiences of an African-American woman living in Serbia, Western Europe’s views on Eastern European and Slavic nations, the position and treatment of minorities in Serbia, including one member’s experiences growing up as half-Serbian half-Romanian, former Yugoslavia’s friendly relations with African nations (massive street protests in Belgrade over the assassination of the democratically-elected Congolese politician Patrice Lumumba at a time when black Americans were still struggling with segregation and Jim Crow laws), the negative portrayal of Serbs in western media, the harmful stereotypes surrounding Serbian women, etc.
We discussed the questions proposed by Stephen and had a lengthy discussion about the style of the video (a rigid interview with fixed questions as opposed to a more naturalistic casual conversation style) and discussed the applicability and relevance of the possible questions, as well as the use of effects such as voiceover narration, background images/quotes, etc. so as to make the final product engaging and interesting to the audience. The different clips are to be edited together to make a statement reached collectively using a conversational tone that will emphasise the importance of our cross-cultural collaborative process.
• How can we bridge the gap between two different cultures?
• In cases of prejudice and stereotyping, do the roots of the problem lie in hatred or ignorance?
• How have the media and popular culture shaped our views of different nations?
• Can education combat ignorance and mistrust and to what degree?
• Learning about different cultures via conversation in a non-threatening environment that nurtures curiosity and openness
• Combating prejudice through education
• Resisting the urge to make sweeping generalisations
• Resisting eurocentrism/americentrism
• Exchanging ideas
• Exchanging experiences
• Fostering tolerance
Forum key ideas:
• Learning about different cultures and expanding our horizons
• Combating prejudice and stereotyping
Our group members and American peers have all been immensely forthcoming and have all enthusiastically approached the project and the collaborative process, with everyone bringing different, interesting ideas and valuable input to the table and contributing in meaningful and helpful ways. We are extremely content with all our peers and are happy to report we have a great rapport with all of them, something we believe will make the entire process even more enjoyable.