Plan Diversity Activities:
Diversity activities are a great way to help residents build friendships, communicate about diversity, and learn about their fellow residents’ cultures.
To help participants think about the concept of lookism (bias based on appearance). Consciously or not, we often make judgments about people based on the way they look.
– One flipchart per group
Divide the residents into small groups of four and issue each group a flipchart and markers.
Each group makes two flipcharts — one titled “How prejudice and bias focus on the physical characteristics of people” and the other titled “How prejudice and bias focus on the dress and makeup of people.” Under each title, have students list characteristics that may result in prejudice or bias for not meeting a group’s or organization’s standards or norms.
Coach the groups as they work their way through the exercise.
Some items that could be listed include:
– Too short
– Too light or too dark
– Too young or too old
– Not graced with “good looks”
– Features considered less desirable than social or cultural norms Dress and Makeup
– Clothing considered out of fashion
– Body piercings
– Hair length
– Informal dress
– Impression of informality
– Expression of cultural, ethnic, religious, generational, or personal standards
After the small groups have worked on the activity for about 25 minutes, bring the groups together and have them present their findings. Discuss what is fair and legitimate to ask of people about physical characteristics and appearance as it pertains to GVSU standards.
Walk Apart/Walk Together
To help participants recognize the differences between people, as well as the many similarities people share.
– Open space large enough for two people to take a short walk
Two volunteers come forward and stand with their backs together. Ask the audience to call out the differences between the two volunteers. Differences sometimes pull us apart. To show this, as each difference is mentioned, the volunteers take one step apart.
When the volunteers reach the end of the available space, have the participants turn and face each other. Now, ask the audience to call out similarities between the volunteers. As each similarity is called out, the volunteers take one step toward each other.
Discuss the differences that were noted. How many can we easily see (gender, size, hair color, skin color, dress, glasses, etc.)?
What were some of the similarities noted? While certain physical characteristics are similar, many other similarities are not so visible. Perhaps both volunteers are enthusiastic or both have similar interests or goals in life.
Talk about the importance of the differences and of the similarities among members of the group. Be sure to talk about the importance of accepting and welcoming all members into the group.
Doves or Hawks: Individual Conflict Resolution Styles
To help students recognize that there are distinct differences in conflict resolution styles and that being flexible and respecting others may help in resolving conflict.
– Poster board
Prepare four posters with either the pictures or the names of the following animals, as well as the phrases that are in parentheses and the conflict resolution style the animal represents:
– Bunny Rabbit (escape when you have the chance)
– Pit Bull (winning is the only thing)
– Worker Bee (act for the good of the group)
– Chameleon (willing to change to blend in)
Place the posters in various areas of the room. Ask students to walk around the room and stand beside the poster that most closely represents the way they deal with conflict.
Have the students at each poster discuss what is good about dealing with conflict in that way, when it is most appropriate, and what they think they can accomplish with that style. Then ask them to discuss any problems the style might cause, when it is least appropriate to use, and what can be lost by using it.
Reconvene and have the students summarize the advantages and disadvantages of the various styles. Continue by discussing how to deal with others who have different styles.
Conflicts are often exacerbated by differences in resolution styles. It is not always necessary for people to give up their natural styles in order to resolve conflict. Some forms of accommodation are possible. It is important to respect differences and turn them into a positive force for resolution.
Diversity Letter Game
To have students define for themselves the meaning of diversity.
– Flip chart
Print the letters spelling "D I V E R S I T Y G A M E" vertically and down the left hand side on a flip chart.
Show the students the previously prepared flip chart and explain that the group's task will be to come up with a list of the many different aspects of diversity. An example is provided below.
Ask the students to form pairs and think of as many words as possible for each letter on the chart in order to help clarify the term diversity. Have them jot the words down on paper. Tell them that they have 3 minutes to complete the assignment.
After 3 minutes, reconvene the group and have the students call out their words. Write the responses on the flip chart and compare the responses of the various groups.
D = disability, different styles
I = individuals, intelligence
V = varying, various, variety
E = education, economic status
R = race, religion
S = sexual orientation, social class, similarities
I = individuals, intelligence
T = thought processes, team efforts, traits
Y = youth, years
G = gender, geographical origins
A = age difference
M = multicultural
E = education, economic status
Summarize by pointing out the variety of words that the students used to define diversity. Explain that diversity is a much broader term than race and gender, and that the challenge is to learn how diversity affects everyone, everywhere.
To have students appreciate that their own communication styles, although unique, are also influenced by culture.
To have students recognize the difficulty in communicating in unfamiliar settings.
– Flip chart
– Instruction slips
Copy the following instructions onto slips of paper:
– Avoid eye contact when speaking to your partner. (Group A)
– Do not show any emotion or react to your partner when they are speaking. (Group A)
– Stand about six inches closer to your partner than you normally would. (Group B)
– Use wild gestures when you are speaking. (Group B)
– Speak more loudly than you normally would and interrupt your partner frequently. (Group C)
– Initiate conversation by asking rapid-fire questions (including personal ones). (Group C)
– Speak more softly than you normally would and don't interrupt your partner. (Group D)
– Silently count to six before responding to your partner and don’t initiate conversation or ask questions. (Group D)
*Create enough strips for each student to have one.
Give each student one instruction: A, B, C, or D. Instruct them not to share their rules with anyone.
Ask students to pair off, preferably A's talking to B's and C's talking to D's. (If possible, have each student pair up with someone they don't know.)
Ask the pairs to talk to each other for two minutes while carefully following their own instructions. Their assignment is to find out two new things about their partner.
Reconvene the group and ask students if they found the exercise easy and have them describe their first reactions to the assignment, listing their responses on the flip chart.
Have one student from each category (A, B, C, and D) read their rules aloud to the group. As the rules are read, list the following communication issues on the flip chart:
A) Eye contact and the showing of emotion
B) Distance and gestures
C) Loudness and interruptions; initiating conversation and asking personal questions
D) Softness and no interruptions; not initiating conversation nor asking questions
Discuss what participants found most disrespectful, annoying, or embarrassing. Remind everyone that culture often leads to different styles of communication.
Ask how the students interpreted the behavior of their partners during the exercise. For example, the person whose partner looked away may have felt that their partner couldn't be trusted, wasn't interested, or perhaps was bored. It is important to recognize that there is a mainstream American communication style, and that many
different cultures bring with them their own rules and communication styles that are different than ours.
To show students that they all have things in common and can use their commonalities as a foundation for friendship.
Ask students to form teams of 2 to 6 members and generate a list of as many things the team members have in common as possible within a 3 minute time limit.
The items listed should be things the students can’t simply guess by looking at each other. Additionally, generic commonalities, such as “we are all in this room,” will not be counted.
After 3 minutes, ask each team to say how many commonalities they found. The winning team is the one that finds the most commonalities. Ask the winning team to share their commonalities. Talk about the fact that although they may not know each other yet personally, they still have things in common, and can use those commonalities to develop friendships.
Discuss with your students that although they may feel a little lost in their new environment, they have more in common with the people around them than they may think. Were they surprised by how much they had in common with everyone? How can they use their commonalities to develop friendships with one another?
Cultural Scavenger Hunt
To encourage students to converse with one another and learn more about one another’s life experiences.
– Scavenger hunt sheets
Create enough scavenger hunt sheets for every student to have one. Below is an example sheet, but feel free to personalize the scavenger hunt to fit your student population.
__________ 1. Knows a folk dance.
__________ 2. Has been to a Native American Pow Wow.
__________ 3. Has cooked or eaten ethnic food in the last week.
__________ 4. Can say “hello” (or similar greeting) in four different languages.
__________ 5. Has relaxed under a palm tree.
__________ 6. Has attended a religious service for a religion other than their own.
__________ 7. Has attended a Kwanzaa celebration, or knows what Kwanzaa is.
__________ 8. Has relatives or ancestors who came to the United States through Ellis Island.
__________ 9. Plays a musical instrument.
__________ 10. Has a passport.
__________ 11. Can name four different kinds of bread.
__________ 12. Is bilingual, or has relatives who speak a language other than English.
__________ 13. Knows some American sign language.
__________ 14. Has studied a foreign language.
__________ 15. Has attended a Las Posadas celebration, or knows what Las Posadas is.
Make this activity a part of any event and award a prize to the person who gets the most signatures on their scavenger hunt sheets.
Students chat with each other at the event and have people sign their name or initial by an experience they’ve had.
To introduce students to new foods and create a dialogue about the students’ cultural backgrounds.
Have your residents come to a floor dinner where each one brings a dish to pass that is unique to their culture. Before you all sit down to eat together, have each student explain what their dish is and its significance in their culture.