Social Experiment on Caste
April 16, 2008, 2:15 pm
Filed under: campus ministry, India, inter::mission, social action, the purple door

castesocialexperiment We got back to The Purple Door a little while ago, after spending a couple hours on the UW campus, in front of the student union.  We were out there doing a social experiment designed to bring awareness to the caste issue in India.  We had a TON of fun out there, talking with students.  Here’s how it went:

We set up a table, with a banner that read, “Free Candy.” We had a small, clear acrylic pastry case on the table, with three levels.  On the bottom level, there were bit-sized candy bars – Crunch, Baby Ruth, Butterfingers.  On the middle level, there were full-sized candy bars – Snickers, Crunch, Baby Ruth.  On the top level, there were three Dilettante dark chocolate bars (Dilettante is a Seattle fine chocolate company).

We would offer any students passing by some free candy.  If they responded and came over to talk to us, we would ask their names.  Based on their first name, we would tell them where they fell in our “candy caste system.”  If their name started with a consonant, they would be part of the lowest caste, and receive a bit-sized candy bar.  If their name started with a vowel, they’d get a full-sized candy bar.  If their name started with a “U,” they would receive a Dilettante bar.  As we gave out the candy, we described the candy caste system, and told them it was just a little illustration of caste in India.  We also invited them to a screening of a documentary on caste that we’re hosting at The Purple Door next week.

We’ve done several social experiments on campus this year, and this one was definitely one of the best.  The students were very interested in talking with us, and thought it was a fun way of illustrating a serious point.  We even got to talk with a few students who are of Indian descent, and admitted that their families practice some aspects of caste – they were actually quite interested in what we were doing.  Hopefully we’ll get a good number of students out for the documentary and discussion next week.

We’ll be continuing to talk about caste on campus and in our community as we continue to prepare for our trip to India this summer.  Good times.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This was a very cool idea! Glad to hear it went over well and made your point effectively.

Comment by Jeremy

That’s a really cool social experiment. I’m glad that it went well. I’ll have to file that away and use that idea myself down the road 🙂

Comment by Michael

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