To speak about culture in a more measured way, think in terms of the way sociologists might break down culture. Culture is made up of material culture as well as the nonmaterial: gestures, language, norms, values. Describe the cultural differences that the Sudanese men experienced using the terms material cuture, mores, folkways, values? Have you ever met anyone from a different country? Did you notice or discuss any cultural differences? What component of culture (from the terms above) did those differences fall under?
I also like the contrast in cultural values in the movie between communal society versus individualistic society. We see the Lost Boys in the United States have food, shelter, jobs and schooling but they feel lonely. They miss their culture because they are so used to communal culture. That is being together with their friends and family, rather than living nearly alone in an apartment. This is an important revelation that our culture sometimes de-emphasizes to a fault; we need other people. Humans are social and communal beings. Do you see how this individualist way of living and thinking shapes our lives? How can we work to change that and satisfy our inherent needs for connecting with other people?
Finally, I like watching the movie with our community service in mind. We have so much to be thankful for in our culture. We live in a culture of abundance. We must be mindful of our bounty and mindful of those who have so much less than us. One way to create this mindfulness is through community service. By finding ways to serve others we become grateful for what we have rather than ignoring those who need help and taking for granted all of our bounty. Perhaps you know someone who is able and willing to help them find a job or donate to their cause - here is a list of ways to help.
Here is the foundation created by John Bul Dau from the movie:
Here is a follow up story about Panther Bior:
Update - March 2016
Sudan broke apart into two nations; Sudan and South Sudan. South Sudan is where the Lost Boys in the movie returned to. Unfortunately, South Sudan faces a new civil war within itself. Here is a March 8, 2016 report from NPR:
I facilitated a sociology conference where we had a keynote speaker discuss refugees.
James Hardan from the World Relief Fund discussed them for us:
Immigrants choose to leave but refugees are forced.
The road to refugee:
Flee homeland, leave everything behind, find temporary shelter (avg stay is 5 years) sometimes living in forest for extended time
Interview with UNHCR; often involves reliving the events
Wait for acceptance and nation to accept you
US resettles 50-60% of worldwide refugees
If accepted, go wherever you are sent and be prepared to pay back airfare costs!
26 million refugees worldwide.
50-80,000 refugees accepted to US each year
$900 given to each refugee to make it through first 3 months!
IL is 7th largest recipient of refugees
UNHCR – US Dept state – IOM Travel logistics – Resettlement Services
Refugee Counseling Services
Volunteer and Church Relations
Citizenship and immigration Legal Service
Educational factors: ESL and lagging academics
Family and Cultural Dynamics:
Parent child role reversal
Lack of parental involvement in students’ lives
Lack of parental involvement in school
Different parenting styles and discipline
Past and Current Trauma/stress:
Past trauma and identity crisis
108,000 people displaced
Imprisoned, abused, denial of human rights
Very different from Bhutanese
Recent refugees, short term
Kids have seen and experienced more turmoil than Bhutanese