The Language of Games

When a language barrier prevents conversation, you can still connect with people through games!

While visiting a temple on a rural hillside near the district of Bhaktapur, the TIEs team came across a group of young Nepali people playing cards and the local disk-flicking game Carrom.  Their English was limited, and “limited” would be a kind way of describing my Nepali, but we still bonded for a while by playing games.  I took a shot or two at Carrom, then taught them how to play the classic card game “War” (and somehow I lost???  Maybe I need a new strategy….).

One of the biggest pieces of advice I would give to anyone travelling in a foreign country would be to bring a language-independent game.  I’ve had a lot of fun introducing my Nepali friends to “Carcassonne”, a board game where you build a city with small tiles.  Sports fill the same role (I love bringing an American football and seeing people react to its awkward shape!).

You make not be able to speak the local language of a country, but sports and games are a universal language!


Teaching the classic card game "War" on a Nepali hillside
Teaching the classic card game “War” on a Nepali hillside
Nepali children gather to play Carrom during the Dashain holiday
Nepali children gather to play Carrom during the Dashain holiday
Carrom is a popular tabletop game in Nepal
Carrom is a popular tabletop game in Nepal
Teaching Carcassonne to some Nepali friends
Teaching Carcassonne to some Nepali friends



Sitting in the Abu Dhabi Airport

I love sitting around in airports – and not just for the opportunity to catch up on Netflix (check out “Dr. Who” if you get the chance!).  I love airports for the feeling they evoke in me: that sense of excitement over new experiences to come and new things to learn.  As an English language teacher, I have taught in multiple countries – Senegal, Nepal, Cambodia, and Peru – and the experiences I had in each of these countries always lived up to that sense of excitement I felt while sitting around in the airport.

As I write this, I am sitting in the Abu Dhabi airport awaiting my connecting flight to Kathmandu, Nepal.  And this time, that feeling of excitement isn’t just for myself.  This time, it is also for the teachers throughout the U.S. who will be joining me next summer in Nepal for an exciting experience of their own.

I am on my way to Nepal to do groundwork for an intercultural teacher exchange program that I aim to launch next summer called TIEs with Teachers (Two-way Intercultural Exchanges).  I have grown so much as a teacher from my own personal experiences abroad.   I’ve developed a passion for the cultural diversity in my classrooms and an eagerness to understand the link between culture and learning.  Through TIEs with Teachers, I aim for other American teachers to have similar experiences – experiences that will better prepare them to meet the needs of our increasingly diverse U.S. classrooms.

Follow the TIEs with Teachers blog to hear more about this project as it takes off!  You can expect to see posts from me, Tim Kobus, as well as other members of the project team.  Our posts will include project updates, general info about Nepal’s beautiful culture and land, and posts about the connection between culture and learning.  Our photo gallery is filled with images of the awesome cultural heritage sites we visit as well as the schools and colleagues we are working with. We look forward to sharing our excitement with all of you!


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