This past birthday, a dear friend bought me a really unique board game called “Passport to Culture.” Despite being in my 40s, I love board games and this one has been great fun! Here’s a sample:
In Vietnam, which animal is associated with positive attributes and would be an appropriate gift?
If you answered “C. Turtle”, you’d be correct! According to “Passport to Culture”, ‘items shaped like turtles are symbolic of longevity, strength and endurance and are positively received when given as gifts. Cows are considered stupid and monkey are considered bad.’
A mix of Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly and Bingo, “Passport to Culture” is fun, easy to follow and educational. The objective is to fill your passport with stamps that are earned by answering multiple choice “passport questions.” These questions are a mix of culture, geography, language, history and customs. What I found particularly useful about this game is that some questions challenged me and 2 other adults who played, but at the same time, I could see how this game is also appropriate for children over 10 years of age! The questions were educational, generated dialogue, offering ample time to consider the answer and to take the knowledge into the next question.
The game also includes “culture cards” – when a player lands on this particular space, you get something like a “chance” card in Monopoly. The card provides a scenario and either offers you a “free” passport stamp or takes one away, depending on how the character in the vignette responds to a cultural situation. These provide for excellent learning opportunities, particularly for young people. An example of a culture card is:
“Depending upon the culture, the color (Vietnam), number (Russia), and type (France) of flowers given change meaning for different occasions. You consider this is the next time you give flowers.” The card indicates that the player wins one passport stamp for your cultural awareness.
Players win by earning all the passport stamps – but one also wins by correctly answering the most passport questions. Due to the culture card, there is an element of “luck” to win more passport stamps, so counting passport questions is another way to measure “success.”
This game is a superb learning tool for international educators. Its a game that you can pull out over coffee with friends or in the faculty dining room; it is not a game that drags on for hours like Monopoly. It is also a game that you can give to your kids – it is entertaining and will feed their desire for discovery.