1. Preteach or review vocabulary.
Preteach or review relevant vocabulary, including:

Have students make connections to their own lives to make sure they understand each concept. Ask: What words would you use to describe American culture? Students may respond with examples of cultural markers, such as music, food, fashion, language, or slang. Or, they may respond with examples of values, such as individualism, personal rights, innovation, or democracy.

2. Introduce and watch three excerpts from God Grew Tired of Us.
Tell students that they will watch three excerpts from God Grew Tired of Us. Show them the excerpts "Sense of Place and Community," "Cultural Differences," and "Responsibility and Leadership."

3. Distribute the worksheet and have students complete it.
Distribute copies of the worksheet The Lost Boys’ Cultural Identity. Have students complete it independently. Then use the provided answer key to discuss students' answers.

4. Have a whole-class discussion to have students make media-to-self connections.

  • What markers are representative of American culture?
  • How do the values of the Lost Boys compare to your own?
  • What questions and fears would you have if you were moving to a new place?
  • What differences do you see between Dinka culture and American culture?
  • How do you think you would adapt to life in a new country? Why?
  • What can you do to make a difference in your community the way the Lost Boys have made a difference in their communities?


5. Have students brainstorm service-learning projects for your community.
If possible, have students brainstorm possible service-learning projects for your community. Have a whole-class discussion about the needs of your community and what type of service would be most beneficial.

Extending the Learning

Listen to Sudanese music on the National Geographic World Music website. If possible, find other examples of Sudanese and Dinka cultural markers to share with students.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • describe American culture in their own words
  • answer questions about the Lost Boys and cultural identity after watching videos
  • make media-to-self connections

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning
  • Visual instruction

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 10:  The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics
  • Standard 9:  The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Pencils
  • Pens

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector, Speakers
  • Plug-Ins: Flash

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Large-group instruction

In Practice

Find resources that show best teaching practices and example student outcomes for this activity.

Background Information

The Lost Boys of Sudan are a group of youth who fled civil war in their native Sudan, spent a decade growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp, and were eventually resettled in the United States. In the United States, the Lost Boys faced many challenges while adapting to their new lives and trying to maintain their cultural identities as Dinka.

Prior Knowledge

  • The Lost Boys of Sudan



the process of adopting the traits of a cultural group.


process by which people acquire the culture and habits of the dominant group.

cultural identity

the way a person views themselves in relation to the learned characteristics and behaviors of a group or community.

cultural landscape

human imprint on the physical environment.

cultural marker

unique characteristic of a community.


learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.