A fun activity that identifies the tension between being an individual and belonging to a group.
If no one asks politely to enter the circle, after the exercise you can make a point of sharing the fact that many people think of using brute force before asking politely.
Works well as an energizer and a game to introduce a discussion about exclusion and group dynamics.
Required Material: None
You need room big enough for the participants to stand in a circle.
Ask two or three volunteers to go out into the hallway.
When they are out of the room and cannot hear what is being said, instruct the rest of the group.
Ask the participants to stand close together in a circle, locking arms firmly together and turn their faces into the circle. Their mission is to unite and not let others come in. With one exception, the key to the exercise: if the "excluded" person asks politely for permission to come into the circle. Then he/she is released immediately into the circle and becomes a part of it.
If the circle gets destroyed and some of the participants are being pulled out, it is important that the circle opens for him/her on the other side. No one will be allowed to enter the circle by using physical force.
Ask the volunteers to come back into the room, either one at a time or in pairs.
Explain to them that they have to get inside the circle; if they want to work in pairs they are welcome to do so.
They are also allowed to talk to each other about how to do it.
Questions for reflection could be:
It is universal for humans to want to be a part of the group.
Thank everyone for their participation, summarize what was learned.