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Alternate Activity 1: The Lunch Room
Activity time: 25 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Blank paper, two sheets for each participant
- Pens or pencils
Description of Activity
This activity explores how tolerance and intolerance lead to divisions in settings like the school lunchroom and how participants can cross boundaries and build bridges.
Ask participants to raise their hands if they have experienced a school lunchroom or other setting where they and their peers have broken off into separate groups, cliques, and tables. Most participants will likely raise their hands.
Distribute blank sheets of paper and pens. Ask youth to take a couple of minutes to draw their school lunchroom, indicating who sits at each table and what kind of boundaries exist. Be sure that they locate themselves in the drawing.
Ask a few volunteers to share their drawings with the rest of the group.
Lead a discussion with the following questions:
- What are the differences that separate students in your lunchroom? Why do you think this happens?
- What would happen if you moved to a different table? How would you feel? What kind of reaction would you receive?
- What are some ways that you could encourage more boundary crossing and bridge-building in the lunch room (and beyond)?
- Is your lunchroom tolerant or intolerant of difference? How could it become a more tolerant environment?
Distribute another blank sheet of paper to each participant. Ask them to draw what a tolerant, welcoming lunchroom would look like. Encourage them to draw based on their vision, to be realistic for their particular setting, and to take into account reasons for both separations and bridge-building.
Ask them if there might still be tables for particular groups or purposes (e.g., those who speak or would like to practice speaking a particular language).
After about five minutes, ask for volunteers to share their new drawing. Say that there are times when we all want to be with people with whom we have something in common: people who share our identities. Problems occur when we feel we do not have a choice, or if we associate only with people who are "like us."
Ask if anyone has ever participated in "Mix It Up Day" at school. If not, encourage youth to find out more about it by reading Taking It Home.
Including All Participants
Some participants, such as home-schooled youth, may not be able to draw from a lunchroom experience for this activity. Ask them to think of other places such as summer camp.