A reflective exercise making the participant aware of their own identity and how they are similar to each other.
Required Material: Pen and paper for all participants and a board to write on.
The facilitator writes on the board:
I am ...and...and...and...and... with blank spaces, and then asks the participants: “Who am I?” The facilitator does not give the answer and gives the participants a couple of seconds before listening to their spontaneous answers – I am an Arab, Egyptian, Muslim, Christian, Artist, Engineer... - she/he asks them to be patient in case they start giving answers.
The facilitator adds: Now I want each one of you to take a paper and a pen and write five qualities that determine your identity: I am...and...and...and... and... and stay away from characteristics like fat or slim, tall or short. You have a few minutes to consider before answering.
In case of questions, the facilitator can give examples of different affiliations that constitute the individual identity such as: country, religion, confession, culture, language, gender...
Two minutes later, the facilitator asks the participants to read the five words they have written and classify them by priority.
The facilitator divides the participants into pairs and asks them to spend two minutes comparing their identities. At the end of the discussion, the facilitator will ask: “Are there common components between your identity and the identity of your fellow companion? Are there any differences? Do you have the same priorities? Does anyone wish to present the results of this comparison to the whole group? You can choose not to read your answers if you do not feel at ease, but what we are interested in hearing are similar or different words and the importance you give them.”
Variation: Instead of dividing the participants into pairs where they compare their identities while seated, the facilitator can ask them to stand up and circulate around the room to take a look at each other's identities and notice the similarities, the differences, and the classification (5 additional minutes).
Then the facilitator asks: Are we 100% similar or different? The facilitator will either get their acknowledgment and acceptance of diversity from the participants (e.g. different yet similar in two points), or their declaration that they have different priorities despite the presence of five similar points, or their declaration that they are totally different with no similar points; however, they are present in the same room discussing new ideas together and so can work together.
Is it possible that your priorities change with the changing situation that you are in?
- Is it hard/easy to choose the main components of your identity and prioritize your affiliations?
- What are the standards that you adopted or the factors that affected your decision?
Every person has specific affiliations, and he/she can classify these affiliations in a specific way that differentiates him/her from another person in the same group, and could bring him/her closer to persons affiliated to other groups. What is important at this level is to look for common meeting points with the different others on the identity level, to become a foundation on which we can establish the rules of coexistence, and this is what constitutes the national identity.