The Monkey and the Fish

The Monkey and the Fish

This is a story that I use in my cross-cultural training classes. It’s a great metaphor for how cultural assumptions can get us into trouble – even with the best of intentions.*

A typhoon had temporarily stranded a monkey on an island. In
a secure, protected place, while waiting for the raging waters to recede, he
spotted a fish swimming against the current. It seemed obvious to the monkey
that the fish was struggling and in need of assistance. Being of kind heart,
the monkey resolved to help the fish.

A tree precariously dangled over the very spot where the
fish seemed to be struggling. At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved
far out on a limb, reached down and snatched the fish from the threatening
waters. Immediately scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully
laid the fish on dry ground. For a few moments the fish showed excitement, but
soon settled into a peaceful rest. Joy and satisfaction swelled inside the
monkey. He had successfully helped another creature.
And here are the comprehension questions that make you think maybe the monkey wasn’t so helpful:
What was the monkey’s motivation?
What words would use to describe the monkey as
he went out over the raging water on a precarious limb to “help” the fish?
Why did the monkey help the fish by taking it
out of the water?
What did the monkey assume about fish culture?
How do you think the fish felt about the help it
What advice would you give the monkey for future
situations where he would like to help?
**Disclaimer: This is not an original story by me….I’m not sure of the origin/source.


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