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Do Something Different 6: Give Something Different

This is an assignment for Creative Problem Solving course I’m taking online via Coursera and the University of Minnesota. Each week, students are asked to Do Something Different, and then reflect on the process.

Give something different. Plan in advance and implement a gift or giving activity; document your DSD in writing and in video/photos. This should be something you have never done before, or an act of giving to someone you never have given anything before. You might want to to a mindmap of all the words associated with “giving” to give you some ideas. What do you give, to whom or what, and why? How do you define what ‘giving’ is? How might you identify a person to give something to, and how can you identify challenge areas to create a meaningful experience through giving?

1. Background

This is a really interesting challenge for me. I’m from the UK, but I’ve recently come home after spending two years living in Japan as an English Teacher. It was an amazing experience for so many reasons, not least for the glimpse it gave me of the culture of Japan, and its differences from my own culture.

One of the many differences I enjoyed was the culture of gift-giving in Japan. Gifts, and the act of giving and receiving a gift, are a really important way to strengthen social bonds between people. It’s not just about the gift itself, but about the thought behind it that says, “I value you highly, and I am expressing this through a gift.” If a colleague goes on holiday, it is kind of expected that they bring back a souvenir gift for everybody in the office – it’s called omiyage. In my school there were around a hundred members of staff, so I would buy a huge box of sweets or pastries when I went away. Omiyage is just one of many different types of gift. You can read more about gift giving in Japan at this link (via Tofugu).

Gift bags for my neighbours in Japan.
Gift bags for my neighbours in Japan.

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