Who “are“ I?
Through both reflexive and dynamic exercises participants raise awareness on the complexity of identity and the multiple senses of belonging.
This session is an introductory session mainly about sharing experience, but as well a preparation for the Intercultural learning. The main objectives of the session are:
• To open reflection on own identity criteria, the complexity and dynamic aspects of identity and how it is constructed.
• To share own experiences in how we construct multiple senses of belonging in reference to identity criteria.
Start the activity introducing the objectives of the session and provide space for reflecting on own identity.
Participants are invited to an individual reflection time. It may help to ask them to draw a personal “flower” with their name in the center and as many petals as elements/criteria they need to define their identity.
Allow time enough for individual work.
When this reflection time is finished ask participants to share only the points feel like in buzz groups, first in pairs, the joining two pairs.This is a very private exercise, therefore nobody should be pressured to share it. Do not ask conclusions in plenary.
At this stage, the facilitator could do a short theoretical introduction on identity.
Presentation of basic concepts through an interactive input where the following Identity elements are proposed: Unique (and exclusive), Complexity, Dynamic, Relative to the context and Socially constructed.
Facilitator can conduct the presentation by asking some debriefing questions:
• Are there shared elements in the flowers?
• Would your flower be the same in ten years?
• Would your flower be the same in a different context? • What factors influence how you define your flower?
• What links identity, values and behaviour?
To proceed to the link to Sense of belonging ask participants to come to an open space in the room and to sit all together (not in circle) in the floor (or chairs). Explain that you will name different categories. If the category named is connected with one of the criteria of identity they have identified with, they should stand up and keep standing. It is important to keep silent and observe without commenting.
Start reading one category. Participants who share that category stand up. After a few seconds all can sit down and you start with the next category.
Repeat the same procedure for each category. Take care that everybody is seated before you start with a new category. Do not hurry and observe. Allow also some time even when nobody stands up. (See the handout)
When the categories are finished ask participants to sit back in a circle and start the debriefing. Some guiding questions could be:
Was there something very difficult about this activity?
Did you notice in which categories there were more/less people standing up?
How did you feel to stand up alone or with nearly the entire group? Was there a difference?
Were there some groups which were more difficult to stand up for or to stay seated with? Is there any difference if you like (are proud of) belonging to that group?
Did you realize during this exercise that you didn’t think about certain groups? What might be the reason for this?
Is it a natural process to belong to a group? Do we always “look for it”? Why for?
What makes the group identity and the sense of belonging? Which elements help in creating that identity? How this sense is an influence for perceiving the other people, the other groups?
At this stage, the facilitator could complete the presentation with a short theoretical input presentation on multiple Senses of Belonging linking it to criteria of identity, raising issues linked with identity and sense of belonging such as stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination.
The level of complexity of this exercise is quite high even if the steps are simple. The reason for that is that the facilitator should complement the activity with some inputs that require previous preparation.
In this handbook and other publications, such as Domino, Education toolbox (CoE) you may find support materials to get ready for it. The different inputs can be connected through the “Iceberg model of cultures”, reflecting core values, interpretations, behaviours and practices. At the end the facilitator could visualise the outcomes of the discussion using the iceberg model.
As facilitator you may consider interesting to reflect on culture and identity yourself before the exercise.
After this session, many questions may arise regarding the subjects addressed. Facilitators may propose to continue reflecting about identity and sense of belonging, this could involve working within the community, looking at research done or watching short movies that address the issue.