As the focus in corporations and college campuses alike become more globally minded, students and employees need to be trained on how to work and interact with others who are different. It is natural for people to understand others who are similar to themselves, whether it is a similarity based on gender, race, age or economic status; it is more challenging to understand others who are not. Diversity programs are designed to teach participants how to embrace differences and work together.
Who I Am
For a good activity to promote diversity, have a number of participants each write a one-page poem with each line starting out with the words “I am.” At a later time, the participants should come back together and read the poems out loud. Each participant should have a turn to read. After hearing everyone read their poems, each participant should write out similarities that they share with others, differences they have and what they have learned about the others in the group. As a result of this activity, participants would better understand and empathize with their peers. This activity would be suitable for college students or corporate employees.
A fishbowl activity takes an in-depth look at members of a particular segment of the population recognized either by race, gender, age or another basis. Members of this particular group should sit in the middle of the room while facing outwards in a circle. Everyone else should make a larger circle around them. Individuals on the outside should take turns asking questions of the group. These should be questions aimed at understanding the group’s background and experiences more fully. Difficult questions should not be avoided as these will increase the understanding gained. Anyone in the inner circle can answer questions. The facilitator should have some questions written ahead of time if needed to get things started. As a result of this activity, participants would better understand the experiences of others with different backgrounds. This activity would be suitable for high school students, college students or corporate employees.
Multicultural Problem Solving
Participants should each write about a time when they experienced or witnessed a conflict based on a difference in race, gender, age or another aspect. The participants should then be separated into smaller groups. Each group should choose one of the situations from the group members and brainstorm ways to resolve that conflict. They should identify the pros and cons of different approaches. At the end of this activity, each group should share their situation and their resolution with the bigger group. As a result of this activity, participants would better understand how to work with others who have different backgrounds. This activity would be most suitable for corporate employees.
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