‘Culture Shock’ at Siena Heights


On Jan. 31, the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Siena Heights University’s Pi Lambda Phi hosted an event called “Culture Shock.” This event was meant to teach people about racial and gender stereotypes through the hypnosis of students. Patrick Wilson was the coordinator of the event and Chuck King was the hypnotist.

Now, whenever these topics are discussed, it has a chance of getting tense. However, this conversation was the exact opposite of tense. It was humorous. Wilson and King took a very touchy subject and turned it into a very relaxing and humorous event.

Ten students, five males and five females, were involved, and it only took them a few minutes to be put to “sleep.” At this point they were under King’s control. The first portion was mainly just getting used to them being hypnotized. King had them act like they were goldfish swimming in a bowl, had them think they were on a hot and overcrowded bus, he even had them “see” a bird sitting on the end of their fingers.

Then the main event started. The students were instructed to be African-American people auditioning to be on “Love & Hip-Hop.” They then were asked to be Caucasian. Each and every student displayed different stereotypes, whether it was the accent and slang they used, to the name they introduced themselves with. The males were instructed to be pregnant at one point, and then give birth. It eventually turned into an episode of “Maury.” Each of these situations showed different perceptions of people from all backgrounds.

Diversity and Inclusion graduate assistant Alonna Tipton said she hoped students left with a feeling of consciousness and being aware of what is going on in the world and also what people are dealing with everyday.

She also had some thoughts on how students can use what they learned at “Culture Shock” in everyday life.

“Students can use what they learned at the event by understanding what their peers are going through,” she said. “I want students to stand up for what is right by being leaders, getting involved in their community, and sharing their insight of what they learned at ‘Culture Shock.’

“For change to happen, it has to start with you.”

She said this event was a way for people to get an understanding of race and different social differences. It took a conversation that can become tense very quickly and discussed it with humor and wit.

The main thing that organizers hoped was taken away from the event is an understanding that people come from different cultures and different backgrounds, but everyone has something in common with the person next to them.