Other Encounters

Your challenge is to understand and empathize with somebody as different from you as possible, preferably with differences that are especially difficult for you to understand.

Step 1: Find an other.  This may be someone in your class or someone you know or meet outside of class, but they should have beliefs, ideas, or ideals that you find very difficult or even impossible to understand.

Step 2: Big Talk. Set aside at least one hour to have a very deep conversation with them. Select questions from below to get you started (adapted from “36 Questions to Make you Fall in Love”):

  • What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
  • Name 3 things you and your other appear to have in common.
  • What are you most grateful for in your life?
  • If you could change anything about how you were raised, what would it be?
  • Share your life story with your other in 4 minutes.
  • Alternate sharing something you consider a weakness about yourself. Share 5 items.
  • Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic about your other. Share 5 items.
  • What roles do love and affection play in your life?
  • If you were a character in a movie and the opening scene is an image of you doing something all alone with nobody watching that is supposed to give us a glimpse into the real you, what would we see? (You can do a montage of scenes if one doesn’t seem to capture it all.)
  • Make three true “we” statements each. For example, “We are both in this room feeling …”
  • If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
  • When did you last cry in front of someone? By yourself?
  • If you were to die this evening with no chance to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
  • Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how they might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Step 3: Reflect on all you have learned about who they are and who they are becoming, where they have been and where they are going, what they have done and what they will do, who they have touched and who they will touch.

Step 4: Post to Instagram using #anth101 #anth101challenge7 #yourgroupname  Post a selfie or screenshot of the two of you or if you or your partner prefer to remain anonymous, take an artistic shot that demonstrates the differences you have overcome. You may also find or create an image that represents these differences, your similarities, a topic of conversation, or your experience building a new connection.