WS4_There is no single story – write your own

Implementation Steps

INTRODUCTORY PART: to stimulate discussion and help the group get to know each other, the following additional actions can be implemented:

      1. Getting to know each other “I tell you my name”

In this activity, the participants are invited to share the story of their own name, its history and its meaning. A good setting is to sit in a circle so everyone can see and hear well. On a flipchart you can write some questions to help participants understand in which way to tell the story of their name: “Who chose your name and why? Does it have a meaning? Was it always like this or has it changed? Do you like your name? How do your relatives and friends call you? As LCP, you may start and give an example by telling the story of your name.

If you have time left, you can invite each participant to write his/her name on a paper and next to each letter of the name something typical for him/her, starting with the corresponding letter. It could be a characteristic, hobby, a person etc. Then everyone presents his/her ideas to the rest of the group.


a.   If you are working with a large group and have limited time, then participants can work in small groups.
b.   Encouraging participants to draw, rather than write, takes the pressure off those who are less able in terms of reading or writing. 

      1. “My object, my culture” – this activity usually requires a common language skills among the participants.

Participants are invited to bring with them (or describe) an object or a photo that represents their culture or an aspect of it. Sit in a circle; the objects are put in the middle. Everyone then presents to the rest of the group what he/she has brought, specifying what it represents and why it was chosen. You can ask the following questions while the participants present their objects. Has it been difficult to choose an object, a picture? Why did you choose this object? Why is it typical for your culture?

After participants have introduced the object, leave the floor for them to continue the discussion. Questions for discussion may be related to perceived similarities, or details about the objects, etc. At the end, ask the participants what they found interesting or surprising during the activity.

Implementation steps for the activity: There is no single story – write your own

The LCP invites the group to watch the following video (text available in 49 languages):

The danger of a single story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice and warns us that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.  

This video is an autobiographical story selected to stimulate discussions about cultural origins, self-identity, self-expectations, as well as about ways in which social perceptions and stereotypes constructed, challenge self-esteem and identity as well. How stereotypes impact on our everyday life is the main focus of the activity.       

Important Note: The content of the video requires a high level of English and understanding of some abstract concepts about cultural identity formation. Accordingly, use it in full only in case that the facilitator knows the group and can decide if it is appropriate. Alternatively, an extract or quotes can be used to stimulate reflection and discussions about cultural and personal identity, or another relevant video can be chosen.



After the viewing, the facilitator asks the participants about their first feelings, impressions and thoughts that might have emerged while watching the video.

The facilitator has previously prepared three flipchart papers with three titles:

(i) Stereotypical representations of people of my culture or country.

(ii) Stereotypical symbols of my culture or country (e.g. a flag, national flower or animal etc.)

(iii) My personal representation of my culture, country and people.

To start, each participant writes (and/or draws) his or her thoughts on a separate paper for each flipchart. Once they are finished, they present each paper and stick it on the respective flipchart. The aim is to show that we all know stereotypes quickly, but that they only show part of a complex reality. Personal and collective identity is a complex construct, and there is always more than one story co-existing in the construction of identity.

Depending on the group, different discussions about stereotypes, positive and negative imaginaries, and personal and collective identities will arise. The aim is to direct the conversation to the realization that we all stereotype every day, that this affects us and our surroundings, but that we can interrupt the creation of a single story about us or others by sharing and being interested in details and complexity of personal and collective stories.

Questions that can be asked to start the conversions are: What are the consequences arising from merely focusing stereotypical representations of a people or culture? What is left out? How does this create a single story about people or cultures or countries? 

If time allows, a second round of thoughts and images can be shared, about the new country of residence. Once the papers are shared, comparisons between the stereotypes about countries of origin and the new home country can be drawn. Are there more or less negative concepts? Are they similar or different? Does the group share stereotypical ideas about the new home country?

Closing the workshop:

It is good practice at the end of an activity to recap and evaluate if participants have felt comfortable, if they are satisfied with their journey, and if they have grasped the concepts and learning outcomes set at the beginning. Especially with activities such as this, that focus on self-exploration and reflection, the evaluation should help foster a sense of achievement in the participants, and give space to share reflections.

For the evaluation, return to the three flip chart papers, and show how they connect. If warming up activities included the presentation of the personal object, ask if perceptions of the objects have change since the discussion about stereotypes. To close, discuss if perceptions about stereotypical descriptions of the countries, cultures and people that were presented by participants have changed since the beginning of the workshop.