What is culture? Exploring a new culture playfully

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Responsible organisation’ s name: Elan Interculturel. References: exercise inspired by a proposition from LTS Consulting Bath

This activity tackles the notion of “culture” in a playful and personal way to trigger reflection on our own relationship with a given culture, on the different layers of culture: visible layers (such as objects) and invisible layers such as values, norms, cultural practices etc.  The second step aims at initiating discussion on the notion of culture, become aware of different aspects of culture (e.g. its mechanisms, characteristics, origins, relationships to the individual etc). Finally the third step proposes to encourage an emotional connection with the host culture, reflection on our relationship with the host culture

Time required:

Exercise 1: 5 minutes / participant

Exercise 2: 20 minutes of preparation + 10 minutes / small group for presentation + 30 minutes discussion

Exercise 3: 40 minutes-1 hour

Optimal number of participants: 6-15


Materials: Drawing paper, color pencils / pastels / pens, journals for collage, scissors, glue.

Flipchart paper, markers


Exercise 1: This task should be proposed as a pre-course task weeks before the actual training so that participants have the time to chose the object they would like to bring.

Exercise 2: The facilitator has to reflect on aspects of the notion of culture that may be relevant to the group.  Ideally this does not become a “presentation of culture” delivered by the facilitator, but s/he can highlight the relevant aspects linked to the presentation of the drawings of one or another group’s drawing. 


Exercise 1: The object that represent my relationship to the host culture

Prior to the meeting ask every participant to bring an object that reflects their relationship to their culture (or if you work with foreigners: the host culture).   In the training ask everybody taking turns to show the object and share why they brought this particular object.  If there are more than 10 people you may want to create small groups.  In this case make sure to offer a space for display later on so that everyone can see everyone else’s object.

Exercise 2: Create small groups of 3-4 people, ask them to draw an illustration of “culture” – not one particular culture but culture in general. They can draw on the objects they brought (if they did that exercise).  The illustration can be a schema, a model or a metaphor.  After 20 minutes the group has to present their work. After each presentation the facilitator can highlight important aspects that appear in the illustrations or precisely that seem to be missing.

Exercise 3: This is the artistic component of this series of exercises on culture, which closes the work.  We propose participants to create an artwork around the object they brought.  They can physically include the object if it is such (e.g. a piece of bread, a postcard etc.) or just symbolize the object by drawing / paining it in the picture.  When finished, participants can present their work if they wish to

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