Onion of Personal Culture

Type of tool: 
60-90 min
Topics addressed: 
Intercultural learning

An activity that facilitates cooperation among participants. Each participant analysis himself/herself as a person by answering to various questions and in the end receives a feedback letter about what written from another participant.

Step by step process: 

Ask participants to answer individually and honestly:
- on the 1st coloured paper the following questions, using only key words: What do I like to wear? What music do I like? What do I like to eat? One habit that I have is…
- on the 2nd coloured paper: What do I notice in other people? What does my social life look like? What do I talk about with my friends?
- on the 3rd coloured paper: One good thing about me is that I…,One bad thing about me is that I…,“To grow up” for me means…, In 10 years I will be…
- on the 4th one: What do I believe in? What are my values? What would I never do?

Leave them enough time to answer all questions. Then ask them to wrap the last paper they answered to (more deep internal things). Then they will wrap the second last around it and so on.

At the end, everyone should have a “ball”, an onion with the more external answers as last layer and the deepest in the core. Make sure they all identify with a sign (no name or initials) their own onion.
Collect all onions and mix them up. Ask everybody to pick up one onion, to unwrap it and to start reading it, then to comment it in a written way short. Ask them to wrap it again and to give it to its owner.
Everyone should then open his/her own onion and read comments.

How did you feel as you opened your onion again?
In which way does this exercise refer to stereotypes or prejudices?
Key words for debriefing: stereotypes, prejudices, images of oneself and others, identity, etc.

Materials and resources: 

4 different coloured pieces of paper for each participant.

Notes for further use: 

Tips and suggestions:
As for any ICL (Intercultural Learning) related exercise, emphasize on the fact that it will imply participants emotionally and personally. Ask participants to be honest and warn them about the fact that what they will be writing will be read by one other person.

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