Practice

Practice

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Role Play
Quizzes
Scenario

Welcome to the Practice section. Choose from the three types of activities below to test your cultural awareness and hone the skills you need to answer difficult questions.

Role Play: Try answering difficult questions throughout a conversation. The responses you choose change the outcome. If you don’t like the way it goes, give it another try. Good luck!

Scenarios: Observe conversations and respond to difficult questions in these brief scenarios. You can choose to distinguish between low-context communication and high-context communication or explore how your answers to difficult questions impact different situations.

Quizzes: Test your knowledge of cultural norms in America and around the world.

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Role Play: The Mango Seller
Practice answering difficult questions from your local mango seller. Your answers drive the conversation!
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Role Play: After a Long Day
Practice answering difficult questions from your coworker. Explore how your answers impact the conversation.
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Culture Quiz
Test your knowledge of cultures around the world!
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Cultural Taboo Quiz
Test your knowledge of cultural taboos!
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American Values Quiz
Test your knowledge of American values!
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High- and Low-context Communication Part 1
View these dialogues to identify if they are examples of high- or low-context communication.
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High- and Low-context Communication Part 2
View these scenarios to identify if they are examples of high- or low-context communication.
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What Would You Say? Part 1
Practice answering difficult questions using tips and techniques discussed in this resource. Explore how different answers can cause different outcomes.
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What Would You Say? Part 2
Practice answering difficult questions using tips and techniques discussed in this resource. Explore how different answers can cause different outcomes.
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About this Resource

Representing the United States—and Americans—while living and working abroad is an honor and privilege. At the same time, it can be overwhelming and intimidating to answer questions on behalf of a nation and its people, especially considering the diversity of the American experience. Every American living or working abroad needs the skills and confidence to answer difficult questions politely and substantively, while at the same time respecting the many cultural realities of all interpersonal encounters.

This interactive resource, So You’re an American? A Guide to Answering Difficult Questions Abroad, is designed to build skills and confidence in responding to difficult questions about culture and nationality. Specifically, this resource focuses on handling everyday inquiries from curious folks around the globe. Have you ever jumped in a taxi and been confronted with “Why do Americans love their guns so much?” or some such question mired in history, culture, and values? Or, have you been at a local market trying to purchase a gift and been surprised that what should have been a 10 minute encounter has turned into a 45 minute ritual of tea, presentation of goods, and detailed explanations of the craftsman’s process?

So You’re an American? A Guide to Answering Difficult Questions Abroad is an online resource created by the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute for all Americans living and working abroad who are eager to prepare for the many informal and unofficial questions they will receive while overseas. Throughout this resource, you will explore cross-cultural communication techniques as well as various aspects of culture through self-paced activities, videos, and simulations. Participants will develop confidence in their ability to navigate difficult questions and conversations, including knowing how to disengage appropriately. This resource limits its scope to non-foreign policy questions, as those demand answers from official sources.