Gochenour, T. (1993). The albatross. In T. Gochenour (Ed.), Beyond experience, (2nd ed., p. 119-127). Intercultural Press.
3:59 am 03 April 2020
First off let me say that I have often used this classic activity with great success with a number of different types of learners, including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, and in adult professional development contexts. Perhaps more so than any other simulation I have ever run, the Albatross can be very impactful for learners in terms of their self-awareness of their cultural lenses and the ways their past experiences shape their present interpretations, with regard to developing openness, empathy, and perspective-taking skills, and with a 'discomfort' challenge that can build tolerance of ambiguity and emotional resilience. BUT times are a'changing. The way I have implemented this activity has morphed through the 20+ years I have been doing it, and the reactions of participants has also shifted. So, fair warning: this activity should not be chosen lightly. I would warn inexperienced facilitators away from it, or pair them with a debriefing co-leader who is skilled at managing difficult, emotion-laden dialogue. It is also not appropriate for contexts in which gender binaries are contentious; the binary approach could easily trigger participants who are non-binary and feel forced to choose or perceive an imposed assignment of their identity within that binary. Framing is also important, as is the actual implementation of the ritual. Check out the demo video I made for additional tips if you are considering using the Albatross.