None of us is a racist but... This activity
is about looking at prejudice using an everyday situation:
travelling together on a train.
• Prejudice and limits of tolerance.
• Images and stereotyping about different
• To challenge participant's stereotypes
and prejudice about other people and minorities, and about
the images and associations the text raises.
• To reflect on the perceptions different
participants have of minorities.
• To raise self-awareness about the
limits of tolerance.
• To confront the different values
and stereotypes of the participants.
Time: 90 minutes
- 2 hours.
Minimum 5, maximum 40.
• Copies of activity sheet, one per
• A pencil for each participant.
1. Give a copy of the activity sheet to
2. Briefly describe the scenario and tell
them to read the descriptions of the people travelling on
3. Now ask each person individually to choose
the three people they would most like to travel with and
the three they would least like to travel with.
4. Once everybody has made their individual
choices, ask them to form into groups of four to five and
• Share their individual choices
and the reasons for them.
• Compare their choices and reasons
and check where there are similarities.
• Come up with a common list (the
three pluses and the three minuses) by consensus.
5. In plenary, ask each group to present
their conclusions including the reasons for their common
choices. They should also say in which "cases"
there was most disagreement within the group.
Debriefing and evaluation
The debriefing and discussion will be based
on the group's reports. Comparing the different results
is a good way to introduce the discussion.
You may continue by asking questions such
• How realistic are the situations
• Has anyone in the group experienced
a similar situation in real life?
• What were the major factors
that determined your individual decisions?
• If the groups did not manage
to reach common conclusions, why was this?
• What was most difficult?
• What factors prevented you
coming to a consensus?
• Which stereotypes does the
list of passengers evoke?
• Are the stereotypes in the
descriptions given or in our minds and imagination?
• Where do we get these images
• How would it feel to be in
a situation in which nobody would want to share a train
compartment with you?
Tips for the facilitator
Be aware that the list of passengers enclosed
is very long and makes it difficult for the groups to come
up with a common list, consequently you may require more
time for both the individual and the group part. If you
wish, you may reduce the list to a maximum of 10-14 passengers
and adapt it to the local or national situation of the group
you work with. It is very important that some of the passengers'
descriptions correspond to minorities which are familiar
to the group including "invisible" minorities
such as homosexuals, people with disabilities, someone who
is HIV positive etc.
In many cases the groups will not manage
to come up with a common list. Do not emphasise this aspect
of the activity especially as it may lead to a false consensus.
It is equally interesting to check why it is difficult to
reach a consensus on a matter like this.
It is important for everyone to respect
each other's opinions and not attack people for their personal
views. If some choices seem doubtful it is more relevant
to discuss the reasons which lead to a particular choice
rather than to question personal decisions. In fact both
the participants and you, the facilitator, will be in difficult
positions: it's very easy to turn this activity into a condemnation
session! For this reason beware not to let the discussion
develop into "who's got the least prejudice?"
but rather to work on the fact that we all have prejudice.
It is also important to discuss and explore
the fact that the description of the passengers is very
brief, we know little about the personality or background
of people. But isn't that the way we normally react to information
in newspapers and television, and in conversations or when
meeting people for the first time?
Suggestions for follow up
This activity may be followed up by another
dealing with images such as 'First impressions'
or 'What do you see?'. Alternatively,
ask yourselves questions about what you really know about
what it is like to be a refugee or an immigrant and face
prejudice and discrimination using the activity 'The
The activity 'All
equal – all different' in Compass is a short and
provocative quiz which people may enjoy as another way of
challenging the images and stereotypes they have of others.
Also for fun you might like to ask the group whom they would
like to share a sauna with. Have a look at 'Adaptation
– integration – tolerance ... Examples from
everyday life' in Alien 93 section C/15.
You are boarding the "Deer Valley
Express" train for a week-long ride from Lisbon
to Moscow. You are travelling in a couchette compartment,
which you have to share with three other people. With
which of the following passengers would you prefer
1. A Serbian soldier from Bosnia.
2. An overweight Swiss financial
3. An Italian disc-jockey who
seems to have plenty of dollars.
4. An African woman selling leather
5. A young artist who is HIV positive.
6. A Roma man (Gypsy or traveller)
from Hungary just released from jail.
7. A Basque nationalist who travels
regularly to Russia.
8. A German rapper living a very
9. A blind accordion player from
10. A Ukrainian student who doesn't
want to go home.
11. A middle-aged Romanian woman
who has no visa and a 1-year old child in her arms.
12. A Dutch hard-line and aggressive
13. A skinhead from Sweden ostensibly
under the influence of alcohol.
14. A wrestler from Belfast apparently
going to a football match.
15. A Polish prostitute from Berlin.
16. A French farmer who speaks
only French and has a basket full of strong cheese.
17. A Kurdish refugee living in
Germany who is on his way back from Libya.
1. Individually select your
three first choices of the people you would most like
to travel with and the three you would least like
to travel with. You have 15 minutes to do this.
2. In groups, share your choices
of the 3 best and the 3 worst companions, and discuss
the reasons which led to your decisions.
Then try to come to a consensus on
a common list of the three most favoured and the three
least favoured companions. You have 45 minutes for
this part of the activity.
3. In plenary, each group presents
its conclusions followed by a debriefing and evaluation
of the exercise.