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Storytellersʼ Foundation, 2009
Cultural Dialogue Handbook
This manual describes learning activities for building cultural competence and dialogue skills in groups.
The act of learning involves three distinct yet linked components. As facilitators we have an opportunity to build these three components in to any group process or meeting by using: Animation Formation Education Encouraging people to try new things or to breathe life in to the familiar Helping people develop new or strengthen existing skills Providing opportunities for people to reflect so the experience becomes a teachable moment
The ability to be interested in, and aware of, cultural differences starts by interest and awareness in our own culture. As a facilitator you can create opportunities for group members to reflect on their culture and share this with others. You can also foster cultural competence through three key indicators: Empathy Analyze Converse Helping people act and react in culturally appropriate ways while remaining aware of their “otherness” Provide opportunities for people to realize that a culture is not uniform and that there are subcultures in every culture Create mechanisms and set a tone for people to communicate and function appropriately in a wide range of contexts
When a group shifts to dialogue rather than conventional means of communicating something profound happens in a group. A facilitator always has opportunity to build dialogue skills through simple skill building activities. Dialogue has a particular set of characteristics that can be presented to a group (name the behaviour) and applied by the group. Dialogue involves:
Creating different ways for participants to engage depending on their skills, knowledge and confidence. Language is clear, honest and inviting.
Collaborate Offering interchange between people so that they want to hear each other rather than any one individual wanting to talk or tell “what they know” Respect Personal Helping people want to work together so trust forms which will result in a willingness to address complex problems Reminding people that everything is personal – we all hold values and beliefs and when we know what they are, we are more likely to understand why we share differences of opinion.
To help a group become comfortable with diversity and build dialogue skills we must be mindful that they are actively learning. A facilitator has a role to play in creating a learning environment so that people have maximum opportunity to develop the attitude, confidence and skills to engage comfortably with diversity. Pushing an individual too far might cause them to enter the panic zone where they most often become frozen and will not learn. On the other hand not being pushed keeps people in their comfort zone where they can “coast” through a group process and growth is diminished.
SECTION ONE: Ice Breaker Activities
Ice breakers are the first activity that the group perform together. Often these
activities are simple, friendly, interactive and fun. As a participant you may take the ice breaker lightly, however, as a facilitator it is important to remember that an ice breaker can set the tone for the remainder of the groupʼs time together. Ice breakers help people get to know each other and they loosen people up. This is a time to introduce the topic and give people a sample of the ways in which the group will interact. The following are some of our favourite ice breakers for helping people get to know each other.
Share Your Name
PURPOSE: This activity immediately reminds us that we are all shaped by our culture. It fosters a sense of humanity in the group and helps us be curious about ourselves and the people around us. TIME: Expect 3 minutes per person. When the group is more than 15 people, we often divide people in to small groups.
MATERIALS: INSTRUCTIONS: We invite each person to answer the following questions and then, in a round format, share with the group. -
What is your name(s)? Who named you? Who else in your family shares your name(s)? What is the history/ancestry of your name(s)? What does your name(s) mean to you?
DEBRIEF The debrief is usually a summary comment by the facilitator or a few minutes are given to solicit thoughts from the group about this exercise.
Join the Dots
PURPOSE: This activity pushes people to think creatively together. This can be facilitated as an individual exercise or in pairs. TIME: MATERIALS: 10 minutes. Flip chart with felt pens, paper with dots, pencil and eraser
INSTRUCTIONS: Make four straight lines without taking your pencil of the paper. Can you connect the dots.
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DEBRIEF Ask how people felt having to think creatively. Invite thoughts or ideas on thinking outside of the box. Help discover who is comfortable and who is not comfortable thinking outside of the box.
PURPOSE: This activity is useful for people that already work together but donʼt really know each other. It allows people to get to know something a bit more significant about each other. TIME: MATERIALS: INSTRUCTIONS: Imagine you are stranded on a desert island. Fortunately, your fairy godmother comes by and grants you a wish. You can choose three people to stay on the island with you. Who will you choose? Tell the group and explain your choices. DEBRIEF: Invite general responses – did people learn something new about an other/themselves? How has the exercise helped people see someone else in a different way? 10 minutes.
SECTION TWO: Warm Up Activities
Warm up activities prepare people for the activities still to come. This is
when you help people become comfortable with a type of activity or with the theme or reason for coming together with the rest of the group. The warm ups begin to move and stretch people, both physically and mentally.
10 minutes Tennis Court template (handout #1) pencils
INSTRUCTIONS: Divide into groups of three. Each group receives a tennis court template and a pencil. Keeping the pencil on the paper, separate the court into five sections, each section must contain three balls. Only three lines can be drawn. The exercise must be done in silence. DEBRIEF: Invite responses to questions such as: How did your group interact? Who took charge? How did people act? How did people want to act? Did everyone get involved?
TIME: MATERIALS: INSTRUCTIONS:
Stand in a circle. Count the number of people in the group and then choose a number that will NOT divide evenly in to the group (e.g. If there are 20 people, choose the number 6) Everyone stands relaxed with their hands by their side and they cannot take their eyes of the person 6th (or whatever number you chose) from their right. They must copy everything this person does.
DEBRIEF: After people have been doing the exercise for a few minutes ask them if they have figured out what is going on. Often people get so focused on the task at hand they donʼt see what is happening to others around them. Use this opportunity to discuss with the group how they can balance getting “individual needs met” and pay attention to all members of the group.
TIME: MATERIALS: INSTRUCTIONS:
In pairs, teach one another a trick or skill that you can then demonstrate to the larger group. DEBRIEF: Invite the group to share how it felt to teach? And share how it felt to learn? Remind the group that sharing knowledge is an indicator of health in a group. Highlight that we all hold knowledge and it is important to create opportunities for people to recognize the knowledge they hold.
SECTION THREE: Building Trust Activities
Trust building activities are essential to help people develop comfort with
each other. Integrate trust building activities throughout meetings, group processes and programming. It is essential that people are helped to find where they are situated in the learning zone at any time – too comfortable means they may coast and get caught in rhetorical language and behaviour, -- too uncomfortable means they can be frozen and resort to polarization and fear. Trust exercises help people gage their own comfort level, which gives them a better chance of being in their learning zone.
TIME: MATERIALS: INSTRUCTIONS: Part 1 -- Pushing
Have people pick partners around the same size. Instruct them to put their hands one ach otherʼs shoulders using palms – not poking with fingers. Have them push against each other – encourage them to push quite hard, use their muscles. One will probably be stronger and they will have to work to find their balance. See how far they can push with their feet away from one another. Part 2 – Pulling Holding hands and leaning out, have the pair balance through each otherʼs weights. Challenge them to sit down and stand up without letting go of their hands.
DEBRIEF: Discuss how balance is the essence of human interaction. Invite conversation about how we must work with each other to find balance. When there is interaction there is also conflict, one person wants one thing, the other person wants something in oppositions. This is tension and when dealt with openly and honestly it helps us all grow and develop.
TIME: MATERIALS: INSTRUCTIONS:
Demonstrate a good spotting stance by going into an athletic stance. Insruct participants to imagine they are waiting to receive a tennis serve. Remind them to have one foot slightly in front of the other, well balanced between each foot and hands out in front. Have the group divide into pairs. Each pair will then practice spotting by catching the other person as they gently lean back into their hands. Have the pairs switch so that everyone has tried “falling” and everyone has tried spotting. DEBRIEF: Remind the group that this physical exercise is symbolic of what is going on between people all the time. And if we remember this then we might be more careful of watching out for each otherʼs emotional safety. Ask the group for ideas on how they might remember that people are vulnerable at different times and solicit ideas on how the group might want to create a safe environment for everyone.
SECTION FOUR: Conversation Activities
Conversation and communication exercises help build skills in people and
help people articulate new understanding. When dialogue is used as an approach to conversation the group will respond with curiosity and interest. There is greater opportunity for diversity to be embraced rather than feared. Conversation exercises are designed to help people process what is happening and it gives opportunities to slow down, reflect and check in with each other. Give time for conversation exercises so they are not rushed and people are able to make sense of the information being shared throughout the group process.
TIME: MATERIALS: INSTRUCTION:
20 minutes Recognizing differences template (handout #2)
Individually complete the recognizing differences template. Create small groups of three people. Share your story with each other. Discuss what you have heard and create a short presentation about recognizing differences. Present back to the whole group. DEBRIEF: Invite responses to the activity. Ask people how they feel about this exercise. Ask why they feel the way the do. Draw out any common elements from the stories. Ask the group to describe what they have learned from this activity.
20 minutes Governing Variables Notes, governing variables template (Handout # 3 and # 4)
INSTRUCTIONS: Review the meaning of values, principles and world view with the group. Complete the individual templates and then share in small groups of 3 – 5 people. Make a list on the flip chart sheet provided of the messages the group was raised with, the values they now hold and why there is a difference. DEBRIEF: Invite the group to share what experiences or relationships influenced the change in governing variables. Ask the group to think about the messages they now give out to those around them.
TIME: MATERIALS: INSTRUCTIONS:
Dynamics of Culture in our Systems
30 minutes Flip chart paper, felt pens
Have the group name 3 common institutions or systems that they interact with on a regular basis. You may have to give prompts (schools, hospitals, clinics, economic, government) Instruct people to work in small groups. Each group is given 3 sheets of flip chart paper. The institution or system is written on the top of the sheet. The group draws two columns on the paper. On one column the word mainstream is written and on the second column the words cultural difference is written. Instruct the group to brainstorm policies, programs, or activities within the institution or system that reflect mainstream Canada and policies, programs or activities within the institution or system that reflect the cultures within the group. Have the group generate two lists that show the diversity (or lack of) within the system or institution. DEBRIEF: The point of this exercise is to explore cultural competence. Facilitate the conversation using dialogue techniques so that it is solution based. Challenge the group to identify mechanisms that they can apply to ensure cultural competence is given attention in group interactions.
SECTION FIVE: Debrief and Wrap Up Activities
Wrap up activities allow for reflection on experience. It gives a time to
summarize the process that just took place and it helps tie up loose ends – mentally and emotionally. The wrap up activity should be a transition so that when people leave the group they have “let go” and are able to slip in to the next part of their day or evening.
TIME: MATERIALS: INSTRUCTION:
20 minutes Index cards or postcards, stamps (optional), pens
Distribute the index cards or postcards. If you have index cards, instruct each person to draw a picture or doodle some words on the blank side of the index card. Once this is completed, the card is turned over and on one side people address the card to someone theyʼd like to share their reflection with. This person can either be someone in the room who they felt a connection to OR someone they really wish to send the card to. Once addressed each person writes a reflective note telling the person about a significant part of their day. DEBRIEF: Invite each person to show their picture and share their reflections. Once completed the postcards are then given to the other group members or given to the facilitator to post.
TIME: MATERIALS: INSTRUCTIONS:
Web of Connection
20 minutes Ball of string
Have the group sit in a circle. Hold a ball of string. Tell the group to think of a person they have connected with in some way throughout the day. Each person will then throw the ball of string to that person and say how they connected. Once the ball has gone around the circle a web will have been created with the string. Each person will be holding a part of the web. Remind people that the web exists all the time between us and how we act and react to others affects he strength of the web.
TIME: MATERIALS: INSTRUCTIONS:
15 minutes Paper airplanes (pre-made), pens
Give each group member a paper airplane. Ask them to jot down words that describe their character. Instruct each group member to stand back-to-back in a tight circle. Each person closes their eyes. Each person gets ready to launch their plane, when instructed to “go” everyone launchers their plane, opens their eyes and grabs any plane as it lands. People read out the character descriptions and guess whoʼs plane they have. They then add one or two character descriptions based on their time with that person. DEBRIEF: If time, facilitate a conversation about perspectives.
SECTION SIX: Facilitator Guide and Handouts
This section includes facilitator notes from the Cultural Dialogue workshop and handouts for activities included in the guide.
Cultural Dialogue Facilitator Notes March 20, 2009
10:00 am Introductions
Today we will spend most of our time facilitating activities in small groups. These activities set a tone for how people talk with each other. The exercises use dialogue, which means people are supported to be curious, interested and comfortable with difference. The content of our conversations will be around culture and learning about how our culture and the culture of the people around us has shaped the way we see and understand the world. The activities you will facilitate are ones we use in our group work in Storytellersʼ we have found that people immediately interact differently when given a chance to share their story and perspective and hear others story and perspective. Especially when presented in a manner that is simple, honest and inviting.
10:10 am So lets get started
Our first activity is an introductory activity and one of our favourites. It immediately reminds us that we are all cultural beings and that we are all human beings. This activity sets a tone right away that encourages the group to be interested in each other and to care for each other.
Letʼs do it:
Go in to groups of 5 (self select – youʼll stay in this group for the morning) Share My Name What did you learn from that activity? How do you think an introduction that is dialogical (inquiry) is different than a typical introduction that asks for information?
10:30 am Expectations:
Iʼve set today up so that the morning is learning a bit about dialogue and having a deeper conversation about culture. In a sense, the morning is your training and personal work around culture which will better prepare you to facilitate dialogue about culture with others. The morning exercise will push you to think about your worldview and it will remind you that your culture influences all parts of you and how you interact with others. The afternoon will be spent with you taking turns to facilitate different cultural dialogue exercises in small groups. You will facilitate in small groups, debrief the exercise and then defrief the facilitation – supporting each other and sharing tips as facilitators and teachers.
So thatʼs my idea – BUT what do you want out of today, write it on the stick-it-note and post on the flip chart, Iʼll then try and shape the day so we all get our expectations fulfilled.
10:45 am Dialogue
Before moving in to actually facilitating the various exercises lets take some time to look at culture and how it shapes us and lets look at some of the critical elements of dialogue Before we get going on our content focus, which is culture, letʼs review some basic principles of dialogue. You will be practicing your dialogue skills as you move through the different exercises that guide you to talk about culture in your groups. Dialogue is about conversation between two or more people. We hear the word dialogue used a lot more lately. So what is it? How is it different than discussion? Have we been using dialogue in our group work? How would we know?
Conversations of daily life
Letʼs start by thinking of the conversations that we have in our daily life. First of all who are you talking with in any given day
Characteristics of our daily conversations.
And, what are the characteristics of those conversations? Example my dog Iʼd say instructional is a characteristic.
Brainstorm #3 Brainstorm #4 Brainstorm #5
Who we engage in conversations through our work Characteristics of work conversations? Typical barriers to conversation
Now letʼs focus in on our work… who are we engaging in conversations
And what are the characteristics of those conversations?
So, letʼs stay focused on work… When we bring groups together (particularly when we know there will be diversity of world views, what do we worry about might happen) Prompters: People debate People talk too much Quieter people left unheard Polarization of views
10:55 am Characteristics of Dialogue
It really helps to start any group work with a short introduction to dialogue and to ask the group to create a terms of reference of how they will try and use dialogue as they work or meet together. But first, if we want to facilitate dialogue within groups we need to practice applying the characteristics ourselves.
SO WHAT IS DIALOGUE?
On flip chart: Dialogue is concentrated conversation among equals. It offers helpful ways to work together cooperatively, encourages mutual understanding between diverse perspectives, produces healthy professional and personal relationships, and leads to stable, resilient outcomes.
Exercise: Step One: Step Two: Step Three: Step Four: Small group dialogue work Choose a facilitator Look at the 2 different characteristics of dialogue described by the SFU Dialogue and Imagine program. Describe examples of what these characteristics look like in action Present back to the main group.
1. FLIP CHART: If you ask thoughtful QUESTIONS, and listen openly to the answers, you'll have real dialogue. What might this look like? 2. FLIP CHART: Scoring points as an individual prevents good dialogue. COLLABORATING as a group opens a much richer interchange. What might this look like? 1. FLIP CHART: Debate is position-based and polarizing. Dialogue is INTEREST-FOCUSED exploration, and reflective. What might this look like? 2. FLIP CHART: TRUST is the byproduct of RESPECT. It transforms complex problems into collaborative, solution-oriented outcomes. What might this look like? 1. FLIP CHART: There is no front of the room in dialogue. EQUALITY is encouraged among participants. What might this look like? 2. FLIP CHART: Everything is PERSONAL. Probe someone's values and personal experiences, and you'll understand their stance on policies. What might this look like?
11:05 am REPORT BACK
11:15 am BREAK 11:30 am Theory:
Try to remember the principles of dialogue throughout the day – I will keep bringing you back to these principles as you each take turns facilitating exercises this afternoon. Exercise 1: On flip chart write the following statement:
Culture is to people as water is to fish (Cecil Herman) Solicit peopleʼs responses to this statement. Exercise 2: Introduce the concept of universal patterns of behaviour by sharing the following from a flip chart..
Universal Patterns of Behaviour
Culture: Culture is a set of guidelines, which each person inherits as a member of a particular society. These guidelines tell us how to: 1. View the world, 2. Experience life emotionally, 3. Behave in relation to others, and 4. How to pass on guidelines to future generations through symbols, language, art and rituals. When people "see and talk" culture it is often #4 that is discussed. When we attempt to share cultural exchanges we often do so through the tangible "pieces" of our culture, but for real understanding to begin we must take the time to share the beliefs, emotional responses and behaviours that are behind our cultural lens. There are three domains in which we organize ourselves as cultural groups. The messages we were raised with and the values, beliefs and principles that we hold for ourselves are culturally laden and they influence our understanding of each domain. The domains are:
Ecology: Relationships between people and between people and their environment
Social Structure: Roles, relationships, purpose, meaning – How we structure our society Ideology: Language, Spirituality, Ways of knowing and passing on knowledge, Symbols and Art
Brainstorm: When you look at these domains, what comes to mind? Think of the four guidelines listed above..
This is often the harder work of understanding culture and yet if we want to work in diversity and create healthy, diverse communities this work needs to be done collectively.
Small group work
Universal patterns of behaviour You are going to explore these three domains within your group, you will take some time to think about your perspective and then you will share as a group and see what similarities and differences exist within the group.
As you are doing this exercise you have three frames to consider: 1. Use dialogue so look at the checklists around the room 2. Look at the universal patterns of behaviour checklist, this might help you think about the three domains, and finally 3. There are three indicators for cultural competence (we wonʼt go in to the details but they are in your hand outs) Empathy, Ability to observe and analyze a culture and Communication in cultural context (verbal and non-verbal) Be aware of your cultural competence when listening to others present their perspectives.. 1. 2. 3. 4. Complete the individual task Share as a group Create a group list Debrief expereince 5. share back with larger group
CULTURAL DIALOGUE: DOING OUR “HOMEWORK”
Jot down some notes about your understanding of the following:
Relationships between people and between people and their environment How you view relationships and how you interact with people. How you view human behaviours (rights and wrongs) How you interact with the environment and with other species (animals, insects etc) Your views on human activity (jobs, volunteerism, activism, etc)
Social Structure: Roles, relationships, purpose, meaning – How we structure our society This is where/how we receive our understanding about family, religion, law, class, economy, etc. What are your views on the roles of social systems such as family, institutions and systems that weʼve structured around legal systems, cultural systems, political systems, economic systems?
Language, Spirituality, Ways of knowing and passing on knowledge, Symbols and Art What languages did you grow up with? Which do you speak? How do you pass on cultural knowledge to others (think of your family – children, nieces/nephews, friends.. how do you share with them what you believe and know) How do you express yourself? How do you reflect?
Step Two: Step Three: Step Four: Step Five: Step Six:
Decide on a facilitator Facilitate a discussion on individual perspectives Make a group list of the perspectives on ecology, social structure and ideology. Debrief the experience Share your list and your debrief with the whole group
1:00 pm 1:15 pm
Icebreaker Role play the exercises
Ice Breaker: Prompt: Group: Warm Upʼ: Prompt: Group: Build Trust: Prompt: Brainstorm why we might use a warm up People get to know each other Decide on facilitator to lead activity, debrief, report back Brainstorm why we might use a warm up People develop a comfort with the activities yet to come Decide on facilitator to lead activity, debrief, report back Brainstorm why we might want to build trust People find comfort in each other and their learning zone
Conversation: Brainstorm why we might use conversation Prompt: People articulate new understanding of what is happening Group: Decide on facilitator to lead activity, debrief, report back Wrap-Up: Prompt: Group: Brainstorm why we might use a wrap up People reflect on experience and can “let go” Decide on facilitator to lead activity, debrief, report back
Write your postcard and share with group
Handout # 2 Recognizing Difference
Think back to an earlier time when you realized someone was different than you. Describe the experience.
Now think back to an early time when you recognized you were different than someone else. Describe the experience
Share your experience in a small group. Listen to the experience of others. Identify any common factors. Prepare to report back to the whole group.
Facilitator Notes -- Handout # 3 Governing Variables Governing variables are the values, beliefs and principles that guide us as we interpret the world around us and interact with the world around us. They are the guiding principles that influence everything we do. We first develop these guiding principles as children in a family unit. Regardless of what our familial experience was, this is where we were first learned cultural roles and expectations. As the child ages in to adulthood the cultural spheres of influence expand. As we age we develop new relationships through friendship, being a member of a club or group, attending school and other institutions. All these experiences shape us culturally and so as adults we often find that our values are not the same as the ones passed on to us from primary influencers. In order to understand how we interpret the world we must take time to name our governing variables.
What I hold important
Compassion Equality Love and kindness
The beliefs I hold that guide me in my life
All people benefit from contributing We work with people not “on” them or “for” them
The way in which I relate to others
Support people to discover for themselves Work for a common good
Handout # 4 Value Systems What messages were you raised with? values and principles? How did these influence your earlier
What values and principles do you hold now? How do these influence the way you interact with others?
- Share with your group. - As you listen to others, jot down common values heard and jot down values that are unique. Discuss.