Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: A Chorus of Faiths: A Program That Builds Interfaith Youth Leaders

Alternate Activity 1: Multiple Identities

Activity time: 45 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint and markers for each participant
  • Tape
  • Optional: Music and music player

Preparation for Activity

  • Optional: Choose music to play while participants work; set up and test music player.

Description of Activity

Participants explore their multiple identities and how their personal perspectives could affect their interfaith work and relationships.

Give each participant a marker and one sheet of newsprint. Say:

We have talked a lot about our religious identity and the story of our morals and values. But, of course, we each belong to many identity groups-our gender, race, nationality, and many others. I, for instance, am... (Describe your identity in words you choose; an example is "an African American, female, Unitarian Universalist, human.")

On your newsprint, please list all the identities you have that affect the way you behave or the way you perceive yourself. Use whatever words and order make sense to you.

You might suggest participants begin by drawing a simple self-a stick person or just a head-on the page and represent their identities as rays coming in toward the drawing. On a blank sheet of newsprint, you can model this by drawing rays and labeling them with the self-description terms used earlier.

However, make it clear that youth may represent their identities any way they wish.

Invite participants to work on newsprint for ten minutes. Play music, if desired.

Then, ask participants to post their newsprint sheets around the room and come back into a center circle to discuss their experience. Facilitate a discussion about the existence and importance of multiple identities; you might use these questions:

  • How did you learn that you have these identities?
  • How do these different parts of you interact with one another in how others perceive you, and how you perceive yourself? Is it possible for you to separate them? Is it possible for others to see them separately?
  • What if you had to pick the most important identity and ignore the others? How would that make you feel? Is that how things should be?
  • Did anything surprise you about your own answers? The answers of others?
  • How do you think these identities might influence your interfaith service work? (If youth do not respond, you might offer an example, such as "I am a Southerner and people assume most Southerners are conservative Christians. How will I deal with non-UUs who might have that assumption?" or "I am a Person of Color serving a community of Color with an interfaith team that is predominately white? What will that feel like?")