Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry: A Program for High School Youth


Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self, in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one's nakedness can always be felt, and, sometimes, discerned.

— James Arthur Baldwin

This workshop has only two activities, and they both contain several steps that could easily take more than the suggested time, if the discussion is rich. If your schedule allows, you could break this lesson into two workshops. For example, Activity 2, Alike on the Inside?, could be coupled with Alternate Activity 3, Reconciliation, for one workshop period; and Activity 1, Different on the Outside, could be expanded to fill another workshop period. You can achieve the latter change by either adding additional discussion questions or by starting Alternate Activity 1, Face Forward; for instance, take photographs during the workshop and have participants or co-leaders complete the gallery set-up at a later time.

If you are unable to divide this lesson into two workshops, keep your eye on the clock and be prepared to end discussion when time runs out.

The self-portrait poems or drawings that participants create in this workshop can be included in the "time capsule" they will make in Workshop 11, Transformation. Either collect the self-portraits or ask participants to keep them in their journals with other workshop writing.


This workshop will:

  • Utilize self-portrait poetry and drawing to reflect on and reframe participants' personal histories
  • Investigate the distinctions between how we see ourselves and how others see us
  • Utilize poetry to explore what it means to celebrate, rather than tolerate, diversity
  • Help youth articulate and share perspectives on what sets human beings apart from one another and what connects us
  • Affirm youth as valuable, loving, and lovable individuals
  • Optional: Supply suggestions for ways to educate others on the UN World Millennium Goals
  • Optional: Engage youth in creating a game for the congregation
  • Optional: Encourage youth to write a reconciliatory poem or letter that recognizes similarities they share with the recipient
  • Optional: Provide time for participants to review their poetry in preparation for the Poetry Slam

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Appraise themselves in order to create a self-portrait
  • Reflect upon whether their outer selves represent their inner selves
  • Discover the diversity that exists within the group
  • Appreciate both the differences and similarities among the group
  • Optional: Act on their responsibilities as world citizens by spreading the word about the UN World Millennium Goals
  • Optional: Offer others a peek at their inner beings during a matching game
  • Optional: Strive to reconcile themselves to a difficult relationship
  • Optional: Review their writing from previous workshops