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Minecraft and Cross-Cultural Citizenship
By Tara Russell Ethridge 13-Jan-16
Each month, at the Saudi Aramco Expatriate School in Udhailiyah, a different elementary grade level hosts an assembly based on one of the six Cs that make up our graduate profile: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Character, and Cross-Cultural Citizenship. When the second graders met to plan out their Cross-Cultural assembly, the first thing a small group of them said was that they wanted to create a Minecraft World. This statement met with quizzical looks from the teachers at first, as none of us could envision how the students could blend the two. Their vision was to invent a world in Minecraft that would mirror our own small, unique community here in eastern Saudi Arabia, complete with a park, a library, and a soccer pitch. Those not working on the Minecraft world planned their dances and cross-cultural stories that would eventually be woven into the Minecraft backdrop. The Minecrafters created their world in such a way that, when we screencasted it, spectators were able to “visit” many of our second-grade friends at each of the stops on our tour of the virtual town. As we flew to the park, we spotted our friends Mayada and Savannah (as avatars), waiting to tell us a cross-cultural BFF story. We then cut to the real world, and onto the stage came the real Mayada and Savannah to tell their story of being friends from two different countries. The Minecrafters inserted each of their classmates within each area of their Minecraft community, moving back and forth between virtual reality and reality itself. It was downright magical. As a teacher, I simply had to set them free to implement their creative vision; their own tenacity and enthusiasm propelled them toward their final project. As a result, these students wound up creating a virtual community that truly does mirror our small town here in Udhailiyah, Saudi Arabia—where everyone knows everyone, and the range of our cultural backgrounds provides us with plenty of opportunities to appreciate and learn from one another, much as we hope cross-cultural citizens do.
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01/13/2016 - Monique
This sounds incredible. I thought Minecraft was a violent video game of some kind. From the way the kids I've heard talking about it, Minecraft sounds destructive and violent.