BARNGA is a simulation game that encourages participants to critically consider normative assumptions and cross-cultural communication. It was created by Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan in 1980, while working for USAID in Gbarnga, Liberia. He and his colleagues were trying to play Euchre, but all came away from the instructions with different interpretations. He had an ‘A-ha’ moment that conflict arises not (only) from major or obvious cultural differences but often from subtle, minor cues. He created the game to tease out these subtleties. In this activity, students play a card game silently, each operating with a different set of rules, unbeknownst to them.

Activity Goals:

  • To learn to communicate effectively across cultural groups.

  • To help students interrogate assumptions they may have about group norms and to critically analyze where those norms have come from, determining whether or not they continue to be useful in next contexts.

  • To understand what happens when we are not utilizing the same “rules” or “norms” as others in the group.

  • To interrogate what the role of communication is in helping us either be confused or understand one another.

BARNGA Activity Guide:

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Facilitating BARNGA in Your Classroom:

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