Culture Coach

Guiding you through a new culture

☀️🍕 Helios Pizza

Morganne Graves, Seyda Nur Günes, Mona Park,
José Ernesto Rodríguez, Daniel Stolpe

Basic Track Summer Term 2016

📽 Prototype Pitch

Have you ever been in a situation where you didn't know how to act in a culturally appropriate way? Where you couldn't make sense of things happening around, because the environment was unfamiliar. You were feeling awkward and disoriented. 

What you were going through is called culture shock”. It is a term used to describe the anxiety which arises when a person moves from a familiar culture to an entirely different cultural or social environment. 

In our project we are addressing this feeling of being uncomfortable or uncertain when one moves to a cultural environment which is different from one's own. As well all know- the feeling of being safe or unsafe does not always correspond to a situation of actual physical threat. Therefore, we reframed the challenge to tackle the problem of cultural blindness and how to navigate psychologically and geographically in a new country. The Lonely Planet - Cultural Coach wants to guide you in a country which is completely unfamiliar to you.

The Lonely Planet - Cultural Coach app creates a dialogue between you and a team of experts who know the culture you have recently entered and who are familiar with the culture you come from. You can ask questions either by taking a picture of the situation/sign you don't understand, by typing, or by recording a video or voice message. This question is sent to Lonely Planet’s experts’; a community of expats- people from your country who have been living in the new one for a while- and who understand your culture shock. We use a matching algorithm to connect your pain points with the specialities of the experts. Your question is answered within a certain amount of time in the form of a conversation thread and if you need further explanations, you can contact the expert directly and gain a deeper understanding.

The Lonely Planet - Cultural Coach app is designed for people who are moving to a new country or visiting a unknown city. It can be also used in orientating oneself for other occasions: for instance, one of our test users wanted to get further information about Indian wedding customs. 

We believe the advantage of our solution comes from connecting people. By guiding people in moments of cultural blindness”, with the help of local people, we create a social value that comes from empowering local individuals and from making cultural differences understandable. The end result is the building of trust and a closer community. We give people a chance to be part of sharing economy; people who receive advice from others, can in turn be an expert in another context. Making use of individuals’ cultural knowledge is the key to creating a sustainable business model which can infinitely adapt to cultural changes in the future.

📓 Research Findings

UnderstandWhat does „unsafe“ feel and look like?
We started out by immersing ourselves into the topic by creating a „dark and scary corner“ in our team space. The process of creating this space served as a first explorative brainstorming session,  where sharing our preconceptions of what a „scary dark place“ is and then building a space to emulate these associations went hand in hand. 

Our next step was to create a mood board to further visualize the concepts of fear and the feeling of being unsafe at night. We conducted a google image search and printed out several images of fear inducing situations, such as photos of a dark empty parking garage, a dark street, a blurry image of a person in a park at night, and similar images. 

What do we know and what do we think we know? 
Next we began sharing our experiences, stories and associations on the topic and began mind mapping these ideas, thoughts, fields, and phenomena on our whiteboard. After an initial brainstorming round, we began to structure our thought process and attempted to identify the different dimensions of safety in public places. One of our most important realisations was that the perception of safety and danger differs largely between dimensions, in particular between the functional vs. the psychological level. 
Then we discussed factors that influence and inform our judgement of other people and situations, including what factors we use to help us identify threat and danger:
- context: e.g. buildings vs. outside; darkness vs. daylight, emptiness vs. crowds of people
- psychological processes: e.g. preconceptions of danger, being influenced by other people´s stories, media scare stories or crime statistics
- source of threat: e.g. perceived threat and actual threat
- factors that impact the perception of threat: e.g. a person´s appearance, behavior, context
- strategies against fear and strategies for self-defence