I Am the Centre…

This get-to-know-you activity is a great way to help the group get to know each other — especially a group with people come from geographically different places.

How to lead the exercise:

Have participants stand up and clear out any mess/chairs from the floor space. Physically place yourself in the centre of the room and declare, “Where I am standing is” – and finish with the location of the training (Bangkok, Philadelphia, Accra, etc.). Explain that the ground in the room is something like a map of the world – you might have the group point out the directions (North/South/East/West).

(If the group all comes from a similar place, you can also shrink the size to a region/country.)

Tell participants their task is to position themselves around the room based on where they are from. Don’t guide participants too much, since part of the opportunity is for the group to turn to each other as resources.

After participants have arranged themselves, give everyone a chance to give their name and where they are coming from. Help the group notice any large clumps or small clumps, great time to acknowledge and welcome differences.

This may then open a conversation about cultural differences in the room. The facilitator may invite people to get into groups of 4 with people from different parts of the “map.” Then an appropriate topic or question might be offered. For example:

  • (in a workshop on nonviolent action) What kinds of nonviolent actions are people doing where you come from?
  • (in a workshop on media) How is mainstream media structured where you are from? Some places you may trust that nothing they say is true, whereas others may be on a spectrum. How is your media?
  • (in a workshop where you want to teach about cultural differences) What are noticing about this group? How are you different from others in the room? How are you similar?