Eleven years ago, on the first morning of the so-called TC Intro in the EuropeanYouth Centre Strasbourg.
We start with a formal round of names and countries.This does not seem to be a challenging method except from getting used to the microphones and to the simultaneous translation. Participants start to mention their names, their country and small things about their lives.
a girl from Malta said her name, country and
I have a boyfriend
this is certainly not typical but why not to mention that?
Some male participants after her in the round, joking, added to their standard introduction:
I have or i do not have a girlfriend.
Towards the end, one of them said:
I do not have a girlfriend but as every man i like women.
Without talking, the team looked at each other and decided to react to that.When it comes to the team introduction I added:
By the way i wanted to mention that not every man likes women. there are men who like men and women who like women.
Oops! Frozen atmosphere.Then in the coffee break the participant came to me and said:
Sorry, I did not know that you were gay.
This was an intensive coffee break.
Eleven years ago trainers and participants were not as aware as today about gender-related issues. But still... A simple round of names can bring surprises and additional learning opportunities.