The suitcase is the metaphor of the cultural and experiential baggage that each of us carries around and that influences our lives. This instrument is easily adaptable to different contexts and allows the participants to be the real protagonists.
The aim of the activity is the construction of a participated and active intercultural dialogue, starting from personal experiences up to the dynamics that young people live on a daily basis. The strength of this tool is its adaptability and the fact that young people are the real protagonists, reflecting and working on the issues they feel "closer". The goal of the facilitator or the classroom tutor is to follow the group process, promoting active participation and free thinking.
The applied methodology is that of peer learning.
The activity starts by watching a video on the themes of racism, discrimination and stereotypes.
After the viewing there is a brainstorming on the video. Without too many explanations on what they just saw, the young people are invited to share their feelings and thoughts. All the keywords are written on the flipchart, leaving a small margin for the next step. It is important to underline the fact that there are no right or wrong answers, but all the contributions are welcome. Then we ask the young people what are the main topics at the center of the video. The facilitator can help by giving suggestions, taking as an example some specific scenes from the video.
After this, around the keywords we try to draw a suitcase and ask the participants what it represents (the cultural baggage).
Linking to the theme of the baggage, on a table in the middle of the room we place the suitcase with all the objects listed above inside.
Pulling them out one by one, the participants have to tell what that particular object makes them think of. What do they associate it with? Behind every object there is a leaflet with a news report that follows the stereotype or prejudice. Many times the news are strongly centered on the nationality or cultural group of the person who performed the action from the news. (This will be commented by the young people).
Once the objects of the suitcase have all been commented upon, the participants are then asked to share their personal experience, continuing anonymously on a paper the sentence "That time when I was discriminated by someone / I discriminated someone / I witnessed a discrimination ..."
Once finished the testimonies will be mixed and returned randomly, the young will be asked to share in public what they have received (whose author is anonymous).
This last phase gives space to dialogue in plenary, the very conclusion of which is that we negatively judge what we do not know and tend to be afraid of people and cultures we are not familiar with. A first action to do is therefore to know and to meet what is new, making ourselves spokespeople for a welcoming and open culture.
Projector, flipchart, paper, pens, a suitcase, various objects that refer to or represent one or more cultural / ethnic stereotypes; these objects may vary according to their relevance to the specific context.
Examples of objects:
- an umbrella;
- the empty box of one of McDonald's burgers / fries;
- a paper bag of the Kebab sandwich;
- a small broom;
- a pizza take-out box;
- a train ticket with "unpaid" written on it;
- spray paint to represent graffiti;
- a CD of heavy metal music.
The identification of stereotypes and their composition is the first step in order to face this path, and sharing these thoughts helps participants to develop strategies to unlock and isolate stereotypes, so the expected outcomes are:
- to increase the participation in critical dialogue on issues that are important to the individual and the community,
- to stimulate the understanding of different dynamics and points of view
- to raise awareness on the subject of stereotypes, prejudices, discrimination and racism.
DISCLAIMER: SALTO-YOUTH EuroMed cannot be held responsible for the inappropriate use of these training tools. Always adapt training tools to your aims, context, target group and to your own skills! These tools have been used in a variety of formats and situations. Please notify SALTO-YOUTH EuroMed should you know about the origin of or copyright on this tool.