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Alternate Activity 2: Creating Multicultural Community (40 minutes), Workshop 9: Tolerance

In "A Place of Wholeness," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Draw the diagram from Leader Resource1, Multicultural Community Diagram, on newsprint. You will be dividing the group into small groups of four so you will need a diagram for each small group. If you have an odd number of participants, add extra circles to some of the diagrams to accommodate groups of five.
  • Write the Who are We? discussion questions on newsprint.

Description of Activity

The following is adapted from an activity originally developed by Laura Spencer for the Unitarian Universalist Association's Mosaic Project, a two-year process to explore how our faith can better support youth and young adults of color.

Every person is a distinct individual with individual needs and gifts. As we increase the diversity of a group through age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, ability status, economic status, etc., we increase the complexity of the group. The goal of creating a Multicultural Community is to create a culture that welcomes and affirms the breadth of this diversity. The following activity explores diversity and creates multicultural community.

Who are you?

Distribute Handout 2 and point out the drawing supplies available.

Share the following instructions:

  • Write your name in the circle at the center of the handout.
  • Reflect for five minutes on who you are as an individual.
  • Create spokes and off shoots and sub off shoots using words that describe who you are. Strive to capture the essence of who you are. What is your fundamental nature? What is your outlook on life? What are your natural talents and gifts? How do you usually interact with others? What are your dreams? What are your needs from others? What are your identities—gender, race, orientation, abilities status, etc.? What experiences from your life shape your outlook? What stage of life are you in? What is your role in this group? Why are you a part of this group?

Creating Sacred Community

Read or summarize the following script.

On each of your papers, you have a representation of who you are. What makes us who we are is a complex mixing up of our identities, our experiences, our cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and the ways that we relate to the world. One of the keys to building a sacred community is to celebrate and honor our differences. We celebrate our differences by understanding that those differences are what makes us unique, that we can learn and continually grow by interacting with those who see and experience the world differently. Our differences also can put barriers between us. We honor our differences by identifying the ways in which those differences pull us apart. We then can have open and honest conversations about how we might overcome those barriers and build a stronger community.

For example, someone who is introverted might have a harder time expressing their ideas in a larger group. This is especially true if the group has many extroverts. But if the extroverts work to understand what the introverts need to be able to express themselves, then the extroverts have a better chance of learning the amazing things the introvert knows.

Another example comes from the racial justice timeline we did earlier in this workshop. Throughout history, people of color have faced oppression from white dominated institutions. This is true even within our religious movement. The result is that there are barriers between people of color and white people that have built up over centuries. However, as a religious community, if we name those barriers and begin to understand why they are there, we can work to pull those barriers down and be more fully in community with each other.

When we work to celebrate and honor our diversity in this way, we build sacred community. Sacred community is one where each person is able to participate fully and bring their full selves into the community. It embodies and lives out our Unitarian Universalist Principles.

Who are we?

Divide participants into groups of four. Ask them to share their representations with each other. Ask them to listen to each other and pay attention to ways in which their fundamental nature is supported by or challenged by the natures of others. They should note these, and when everyone has shared, they should share their observations about how their identities support or challenge each other.

Next give each small group the newsprint you prepared from Leader Resource 1. Give the following instructions:

Spend a few minutes discussing what your small group needs to be able to create sacred community. Write your responses on newsprint. Each small circle represents one member of the community. The large circle is the sacred community you are striving to create. Try to graphically show, by words or images, how you as individuals and as a group can be together to create a sacred community.

Then point out the discussion questions you have written on newsprint and posted:

  • What do you need from others in the group? [For example if you are shy what do you need to able to feel comfortable sharing? If you have a hearing loss what do you need?]
  • What do you need to give, or give up, in order to make room for others? [If you are usually talkative, how can you make space for the shy ones? As a speaker, how can you be sure everyone can hear you?]

Point out that it is important that everyone be willing to risk asking for what they need. Everyone should also think about ways their identities may have given them advantages over others in the group, and how they might need to give back some of that advantage.

Sharing the Learning

Give the small groups about 20 minutes to work together then bring them back to the large group. Ask each group to share what they created. To wrap up, ask the group what insights they gained from this activity.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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