Created by Justīne Buliņa, Agnese Bordjukova, Ilze Zīriņa, in Rauna, Latvia, 26.02. 2020. No 2

Anotation: “Diversity is unique”, is a quote of one youngster after experiencing this class and we decided to leave it as a title. Thinking of diversity as a value, we decided to explore following ideas in our community of young people: 

  •  We become aware of how unique we are when     we realize how diverse we are;
  • And on the same time when I open my weirdness and I see that I am not alone like that, it surprises, releases, and connects me with people   surround me;
  • Am I ready to accept those who are different?    Am I ready to be different myself?
  • When do we all become the same, and when do  we split in million diverse pieces?

Intention:  awareness of diverse perception towards one and the same  information. Self awareness in a connection with another. Trust building through sharing personal experience. Visual and audial perception and diverse interpretation.

Duration: 2 hours x 2 classes: the same class for two separate target groups from the same school. one – for young people ( age of 9 – 16) and another for teachers ( age around 40 – 50 y.o.).

Target groups: 17 young people (age of 9 – 16) and another for 2 teachers ( age around 40 – 50 y.o.).

Approach: non- formal kinesthetic learning trough movement and dance.   

Description of the exercises.

  • Remembering names and bringing energy together:

Everybody who is present standing in the circle and throwing a ball by saying: 1.) my own name; 2.) later – person’s name to whom I direct the ball.

Note. Smooth transition from people still gathering to starting the workshop.

  • Hug game.

Intention: Activation of group energy:  

Everybody is walking in the room.

– Whenever the leader is clapping hands one time, participants hug the first person, they have eye contact with. Person – staying without a partner should sing a song what never has been composed, in a language what never has invented to the whole universe (meaning – loudly). Two times clapping means – release and keep walking.

– Next step of the game: Everybody should hug AND to put the partner on the floor but the same time – not to allow it to happen with self.

Note. It is always fun, breaks the ice and also good energizer.

  • Contact points.

Intention: to bring intention to here and now. To observe how diverse choices people make around:

– the leader calls out a number and participants make contact points to the floor with different body parts according   to the number what is called out;

– in couples: a couple should make together as many contact points to the floors as the leader calls out;

– in couples: a couple creates as many body contact points between them as the leader calls out;

– the couple should move created contact points in the space.

Note: participants connected and started to cooperate in an easy way. Gradually they started to become competitive – who will be the wisest and who – the most advanced physically. It gave them a nerve to dive into the process.

  • Opening circle:

When the participants have brought together energetically and warmed up physically we invited them to remember the last time we met and to help each other to remember details of it.

Why have we gathered here? What did we do last time? What was your favorite part?

We also brought participants’ attention towards the theme of this day – Notice the Diversity.

Thinking of the previous exercise, what do you think might be the theme of today?

What is the diversity for you?

  • I – the different.

Intention:  Trust building through sharing personal experience. Observing and appreciating diversity of experiences, tastes and opinions.

Everybody takes a spot in a room. Somebody says some statement about self. Those people who can relate to this statement walks towards him/her. Others stay where they are.

Then another person says another statement and again – people who agree they approach the initiator others stay where they are.

Note:  we were surprised how ready were kids to participate and willing to share their personal thoughts and experience. And we realized – when I open my “weirdness” and I see that I am not alone like that, it surprises, releases, and connects me with people surround me.

Among youngsters such statements as “I am stupid”, “I do not like my style”, “I like horror films”, “I like to dance and eat”, “when I have nothing to do, I draw on arms”, “I grew with my grandmother”, “we are weird” etc

Among adults such statements as “I am doing all the works quite slowly”, “It is very difficult for me to wake up in the mornings”, “I like to take a responsibility”, “I like to work with kids with learning difficulties”, “my father is my hero”, “I like to be into problem situation, it makes me to find effective solutions”, “I like to sit in a bath for a long time”, “I hate aggressiveness” etc.

We feel it as a good starting point to develop this exercise towards more kinesthetic experience.

  • The center of gravity / qualities.

Intention: Self awareness in a connection with another.

Sensitivity and listening skills. In a couple:

– follower eyes closed. Leader place a palm on the lower back of the follower and starts to guide partner through the room. Changing directions and speed, sometimes stays quiet. Guidance just with the open palm;

– the same but now the leader takes the follower off the vertical using all the levels – floor level, sitting, standing.

Mobility and speed. In a couple:

– both – eyes opened. Now the person, who has palm on the partner’s lower back, is a follower. She/he should never release the palm off the partner’s back. The leader challenges with the speed, sudden changes of directions and levels in space.

Power and strength. In a couple:

– one tries to lift another one vertically up. First the person being lifted says YES and another time – NO;

– one is lying down, facing floor. Another is trying to turn the lying person around but this person is resisting as much as she/he can;

– one is lying cross the another one. Person, on the bottom should turn around but the person above – does not allow;

– one is pushing another one sideways. Another tries to stay on a spot. First by using muscles. Then – using energy (releasing muscles and breathing out through the feet into the ground.)

Balance. In couples:

– one in a table position. Another one tries to balance placing her/his center of gravity across the partners.

Note: we included these classic exercises to let participants sharpen their self awareness. Physical awareness of different qualities of center of gravity promotes also psychological and emotional grounding.

Of course, for most of the youngsters it stayed more in a playful level. But we do not mind that.

For adults it was a playground for their explorations and we stayed with these exercises longer than we planned.

  • See me, hear me, interpretat me.

Intention: awareness of diverse perception towards one and the same information. Visual and audial perception and diverse interpretation.

In couples:

– one writes down 4 simple actions (walk, sit, rise hand) + everybody has one thing in common – hug the sun;

then he/she reads these actions to the partner who interprets them. When the partner learns this movement sequence by heart, he/she performs it to the partner who films the performance on the cell phone;

– then the cell phones get switched with another couple;

– the person who were just performing has the unfamiliar phone with the filmed movement sequence. So, she/he explains verbally to the partner what is the person doing in the filmed material but another one interprets movement as she/he understands.

– both couples come together and appreciate the similarities and differences of interpretation.

  • Debriefing in a circle:

Question: what did you do?

Answers: we trusted our cell phones to another; we were listening.

Question: what did you notice at the videos?

Answers: each of us understands things differently; somebody moves more gracefully, somebody – more clumsy.

Question: name 2 differences what you noticed comparing videos!

Answers: personality of the performer makes difference; our videos are quite similar because we paid attention to the explanations; it is different persons performing different people filming in a different space.

Question: how easy/difficult is it to understand what partner means?

Answers: it is easier if the explanation is more detailed.

Question: who enjoyed more freedom in interpretation and less explanation?

Answer: around 80%.

Question: who thinks, it is easier to be similar to others?

Answer: 0%

Note: We take this as another starting point of exercise what we want to develop. This time participants just understood the instructions and started with really basic actions. It was not a wide range of interpretation. Next time we would like to ask them to write down actions where each can be more creative with the interpretation.

  • Reflection at the end:

Short reflection on the whole class. Every participant need to finish one sentence of four options:  Today I enjoyed…., I didn’t understand …., Next time I would like to…I did not quite like…  

Some examples:

next time I would like to have this session longer; I enjoyed walking eyes closed; I enjoyed improvisation and cooperation with people; next time I would like the group be more quiet during the process; I enjoyed to guide a person with the palm; Next time I will be braver; I did not quite like dancing; I did not understand why when filming with unfamiliar phone, I had a feeling it is stolen; I enjoyed being Here.

Note: It was encouraging to hear that there wasn’t so much confusion, but enjoyment and hopes to have next time already. 

Note from facilitators about both classes: Also this time 2 teachers came. One was the same. Another – new one. We hope may be next time they three will be present. It tells us how long changes happen in a small community like ours. Nevertheless, the class was very meaningful and exciting as we can communicate with the teachers in another level – more exploring details. With the youngsters it is more playful, shorter each exercise. But both groups are fully in.

As I mentioned before two of our exercises we see as a starting point. We tried out the ideas and noticed weak points. And next time we want to develop these ideas to make the exercises so, that the participants need to use their kinesthetic sense more.

Video extract:

the Key to Connection is implemeneted in the framework of Erasmus+: Youth in Action  programme – key action 2, Strategic Partnership for exchange experiences.