TV Guide Online assembled a virtual roundtable to discuss next Monday's episode of Worlds Apart (8 pm/ET), National Geographic Channel's globe-spanning new series in which American families spend 10 days immersed in a culture far different from their own. Our conversation brings together the executive producers of the series, Glenda Hersh and Steven Weinstock, and participants Daryle Noble and Debbie Johnson of St. Louis, who ventured off with their children, Joshua, 10, and Jasmine, 8, to a remote Outer Mongolian village last August. There was no electricity, no running water and just tall weeds to hide behind when nature called. After more than a week in the wild, the family discovered as much about themselves as they did about a vastly different way of life.

TV Guide Online assembled a virtual roundtable to discuss next Monday's episode of Worlds Apart (8 pm/ET), National Geographic Channel's globe-spanning new series in which American families spend 10 days immersed in a culture far different from their own. Our conversation brings together the executive producers of the series, Glenda Hersh and Steven Weinstock, and participants Daryle Noble and Debbie Johnson of St. Louis, who ventured off with their children, Joshua, 10, and Jasmine, 8, to a remote Outer Mongolian village last August. There was no electricity, no running water and just tall weeds to hide behind when nature called. After more than a week in the wild, the family discovered as much about themselves as they did about a vastly different way of life.

TV Guide Online: How did the Mongolians treat you?
Daryle Noble:
They opened their entire lives to us and made everything available. You don't really get that in the big city.

TVGO: How did the Mongolians enjoy the introduction to baseball you gave them?
Daryle:
I gave them a version of baseball. What was exciting to me is that everyone wanted to take a whack at it. We actually played a little game, using yak poop for bases.

TVGO: You know, it would add an extra dimension to Major League Baseball if the players actually had to slide into poop.
Daryle:
You're right about that.

TVGO: Describe the way your children were affected by the experience.
Daryle:
They were able to see how children in other cultures actually have to work — some of them work from sunup to sundown. They don't sit around with Playstation 2 all day long. These kids have responsibilities. They aren't told what to do; they know what to do.
Debbie Johnson: This school year Jasmine's class was asked to write a paper about what it would be like to have no electricity, and she was the only one in the class who could speak from experience.

TVGO: Daryle, how did the trip affect your life together with Debbie?
Daryle:
We realized how much we need and appreciate each other.

TVGO: Debbie?
Debbie:
It's made us take a step back. We've actually slowed down and taken time to be with each other, just the four of us. It's made me appreciate the more simple things in life.

TVGO: Debbie, what was the most difficult part of the experience?
Debbie:
The women there do more work than the men, and it was the hardest thing I've ever done physically. I don't think the workload ever got any easier; I just got used to it. As each day went by, you kind of get into a routine. It was halfway through before I started to feel comfortable.
Daryle: She realized how strong she actually is. I could never envision my wife milking a yak. I could never imagine my wife cooking from scratch. Heck, we pop things in the microwave. But she realized some of her inner strength. I've always thought she could do anything she wanted to do.

TVGO: Would you do it again?
Debbie:
It's funny. When we were there, Daryle and I would entertain ourselves at night thinking about families and friends, asking who could make it and who'd want to go home. We really couldn't think of family that we knew that would stay and do it. For us, it was a profound experience. The first days were very difficult, but once we got adjusted, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

TVGO: Daryle admits in the show that he blinks when he gets nervous, and on the show the viewers will hear a "boink, boink" sound effect when he blinks on camera. At other times, funny pop-up text comments on certain situations. What's with that, producers?
Steven Weinstock:
We use humor to bring people together and get them close to the experience.
Glenda Hersh: In the field, sometimes the situations are so absurd, you either laugh or cry. We are constantly cracking up at the situations in the editing room, and we figure, if we're laughing, so should everyone else. We did not want the show to be this overly earnest take on a cultural exchange. We've found that you can really bond with people without being so serious about it.

TVGO: It's very moving to watch the Noble family's farewell to the village. Was their close bonding experience typical of other families?
Steven:
Families see themselves in a way they never did before, and experience themselves in a way that is very different than their life in America. When they leave, it always brings on a feeling of deep emotional connection, and of loss.
Glenda: When they first arrive, they can't even imagine how they're even going to survive one week. In the first few days, every minute seems like an hour. By the end of the experience, they can't imagine how they can possibly leave.

TVGO: Did you consciously choose families with teenagers, knowing that they might be, how should I say, a challenge away from home?
Glenda:
Classically, teenagers are these strange beasts. They are going to have strong reactions. They clearly have a different view of themselves when they're within a different culture. We've had some interesting dynamics crop up when they meet people of their own age who are having babies and are considered adults in the culture.

TVGO: Are there any areas of the world you won't send families?
Steven:
No one's going to the south of France.
Glenda: Or Baghdad.