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Heelotia: A Cross-Cultural Simulation

Heelotia: A Cross-Cultural Simulation

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Comprehensive Unit
15 pages
Grade Level: Elementary – Community College

Heelotia is a simulation designed to provide students with an experimental or discovery exercise in cross-cultural relations. The simulation is designed to be a part of a more extensive study of cultural perceptions and can be used in an exploration of one's own community as well as that of more geographically distant cultures.

Every culture operates according to universally acknowledged, though often unwritten, "rules" of behavior. In this simulation, the rules of the two imaginary cultures, Heelotia and Hokia, are introduced to the participants. Ambiguity has been built into the simulation to place the burden on the participants to make personal decisions regarding their behavior when they come in contact with the other culture, just as we must do when we venture into other cultures in the real world. The activity allows each participant to experience how he/she chooses to mediate personal and group norms and expectations. This simulation highlights cultural difference, not because we believe cultures are more different than alike, but because we hope to create a forum in which participants can reflect on their own and others' behavior when confronted with difference.


  • to give players a simulated cross-cultural experience
  • to help players develop decision making skills (individual and group)
  • to provide a forum of discussion about the accuracy of our perceptions: to raise questions of how and where we get our information and how our perceptions are formed


The simulation requires a minimum of 75 minutes, but 90 to 120 minutes is more desirable. It is suggested that the simulation be divided into a two-day activity, although it could be run in a single day if time permits.


  • Grade 5 to Adult
  • This simulation runs most smoothly if there are two teachers or facilitators to guide and monitor the interactions.
  • A minimum of 12 players per culture (24 players total) and a maximum of 30 players per culture (60 players total) are required. One of the cultural rules involves electing a female to one position; in an all-male group this can be modified.