ACTIVITY 11: ICEBREAKERS AND INTRODUCTIONS
The following suggestions are short and simple ways to introduce participants to each other.
Group Still Life or Installation: Each person brings a meaningful object from home to contribute to an opening display as a way of introducing something important about them.
Human Rights Squares: Give participants copies of "Human Rights Squares," a grid of sixteen squares with a question in each square. Explain that during the allotted time, they must mingle and find a different person who can answer each questions. The name of the person who answered is written next to the question. Ask who got the most signatures. Ask which questions were difficult or impossible to find answers for. This activity can be adapted for a variety of human rights topics.
Name a human right.
Name an organization that works for human rights.
What type of rights violation disturbs you the most?
Name a document that proclaims human rights.
Name a country where people are denied rights because of their race.
Name a right all children should have.
Name a singer who sings about rights.
Name a film about human rights.
Name a country where the human rights situation has recently improved.
Source: David Shiman, Teaching Human Rights. (Denver: CTIR, 1999) 3.
Interviews: Like "Portraits," but without the drawing. Each person pairs off with another, asks several questions. Then each partner introduces the other to the whole group. Some leading questions might be:
1. What makes you unique?
2. What person in your life has helped to make you the strong leader you are?
3. When you hear the phrase "a human right," what do you think about?
4. What animal bests represents you?
5. Who is the best storyteller in your family or community?
6. What event in your life has most affected your worldview?
7. What brought you here?
In the Same Boat: Explain that participants must locate others who share the same characteristic. Then call out some categories (e.g., those born in the same decade or month; those with the same number of children or siblings; those who speak the same language at home or the same number of languages). Under the right circumstances, more sensitive categories might be used (e.g., those whose skin tone is the same; number of times arrested).
Me too!: One person says her or his name and starts to describe herself or himself. As soon as another person hears something in common, that person interrupts, giving her or his name (e.g., "I'm ____________ and I too have two older sisters") and beginning a self-description until yet another person finds something in common and interrupts in turn. Continue until everyone in the group has been introduced.
Musical Chairs: Arrange chairs in a close circle and ask participants to sit down. Stand in the middle of the circle and explain that you are going to state your name and make a statement about yourself. When you do, everyone for whom that statement is also true must change chairs. (e.g., "I am X and am left-handed," "I am X and I have three daughters," or "I am X and I dislike eating ___"). Try to get a chair for yourself. The person left without a chair then makes a similar statement about herself or himself. Continue until most participants have had a chance to introduce themselves in this way.
Portraits: Provide participants with plain paper and a pen. Ask participants to find a partner whom they don't know. Explain that each person is to draw a quick sketch of the other and to ask some questions (e.g., name, hobby, a surprising fact) that will be incorporated into the portrait. Allow only a short time for this and encourage everyone to make their portraits and names as large as possible. Then ask each participant to show his or her portrait and introduce the "original" to the group. To facilitate learning names, hang the portraits where everyone can see.
Teamwork: Divide participants into small teams and allow them time to discover the characteristics they have in common (e.g., culture, appearance, personal tastes, hobbies). Ask each team to give itself a name and be able to explain it. Groups then introduce themselves to the whole group, naming the team members and explaining their name.