Who's Here? is a very popular introductory exercise. Use it in the beginning of a workshop as a warm-up to talking about identity, diversity, inclusiveness. If it works, this exercise will elicit feelings from group members related to personal identity and acceptance, experiences of bias and discrimination, desire for connection without compromising integrity, etc. Facilitators should be prepared to deal with such feelings.
- To orient the participants to thinking about identity and identity group membership (I am __________," and "I am a member of/I belong to the group __________.")
- To make explicit the diversity of the group
- To get participants thinking about the feelings attached to: (a) belonging to a group, and (b) not belonging to a group
- To help facilitators identify which identity groups are present
- To help facilitators assess how receptive the group and individuals are to thinking about identity and/or difference (comfort level of the group)
Participants will be able to:
- Identify the identity groups they belong to
- Identify the identity groups present in the room
- Talk about feelings attached to identity group membership (or non-membership)
- Talk about themselves and others in terms of identity groups.
Ask participants to stand in a circle. Tell them that you are going to read a list of questions about their identities. Ask participants to move to the center of the circle when they hear a phrase that describes themselves. Ask them to pay attention to the feelings they have when they hear certain descriptions, when they stand, when they don't stand, when others stand or don't stand. They should notice their feelings and each other when they are inside and outside groups.
Remind them that some identities are risky to claim in certain settings. (For example, it would be dangerous to identify as Jewish in Nazi Germany.) Participants may elect to "pass" and remain in the outside of the circle. Example: who here is over 30? Those over 30 should move into the middle; those under 30 or who choose to pass should stay put.
Sample List of DescriptionsEdit
- Generic: "Who here ...is the oldest child? ...is the youngest child?...is a middle child?...is an only child?
- ...has more than three siblings? ...has more than five siblings?
- ...comes from a blended family (i.e. has step-sisters and/or step-brothers)?
- ...was raised by a single parent for most of their life? ...was raised by two parents?
- ...has a divorce in their family history? ...comes from/grew up in the suburbs?
- ...comes from/grew up in an urban area? ...comes from/grew up in a rural area?
- ...has a dog? ...has a cat? ...has horses? ...has other animals (name)?
- ...likes sports? ...likes movies?
(You can make up your own along these lines.)
Ism-related: "Who here ...is a man? ...is a woman? ...considers themselves middle-class? ...considers themselves working-class? ...considers themselves economically poor? ...is Jewish? ...is Christian or raised Christian? ...is of another religious background? ...is a person of color? ...is white? ...is Hispanic? ...is Asian? ...is Black or African? ...is Indian? ...is Native American? ...is gay, lesbian or bisexual or knows someone who is gay, lesbian or bisexual? ...is straight? ...does not speak English as their first or native language?
(You can make up more along these lines.)
Process the exercise by asking participants to discuss the feelings associated with group membership or nonmembership.
- How did they feel identifying themselves as members of these groups?
- Did anyone not stand up even though they were a member of that group?
- Was anyone confused?
- What description felt proudest? Scariest?
- Did any description make you feel ashamed?
- Other questions?