Theme M & A
Racist attitudes lead not only to violent
attacks on foreigners or refugees but also to discrimination
in housing and employment and other aspects of everyday
This activity is a roleplay.
• Conflicts between people from different
cultures can be solved in a positive way.
• Our analysis of conflict and the
way we deal with it differs depending on the origin of the
social and cultural background of the people involved.
• Our own interests may distort our
perception of the problem and make it bigger than it is.
• To analyse our attitudes towards
people from different cultural or social groups.
• To explore problem solving strategies.
• To reflect upon the limits of tolerance.
• To reflect upon the relationship
between discrimination and conflicts of interest.
- 2 hours
A minimum of 10 people and a maximum of 25.
• Copies of the role cards
• Copies of the Observers' notes
• Copies of the sheet: Clues for
finding a solution
• Pens and paper for the observers
to make notes
1. Tell the group that they are going to
roleplay a situation that could happen in anyone's daily
life, then read the following:
"There is an apartment block near where
you live. One of the apartments is rented to a group of
foreign students who often have visitors from home staying
and who also frequently organise parties. Some neighbours,
especially those living in the apartments closest to the
students, are annoyed and complain that the students and
their friends make lots of noise, don't let them sleep and
don't take care of the building. The neighbours have called
a meeting to try to solve this problem."
2. Ask for volunteers to play the roles
of the neighbours. You will need a minimum of 6 and a maximum
of 9. The rest of the participants act as observers.
3. Share out the role cards between the
volunteers and give the observers each a copy of the Observers
notes. Allow 5 minutes for people to think about what they
have to do.
4. Remind the players that their aim is
to come up with a solution to the problem then start the
5. Allow the discussion to proceed for about
10 minutes and then, without interrupting, hand each of
the players a copy of the Clues for finding a solution.
Let the roleplay continue for a further 10 minutes. However,
you may interrupt or prolong it as you consider necessary.
Debriefing and evaluation
Ask all the participants to get together
in a large group for the discussion, which should be divided
into two parts:
1: The roleplay
Talk about what happened in the roleplay
using the following questions as a guide:
• What did the observers record
and what were their impressions of what happened during
• How did the actors feel about
it? Was it difficult to get into the role they were given,
what did they find hardest and what easiest etc.?
• Did the participants perceive
any difference between the first and second stage i.e. after
the actors had been given the Clues for finding a solution.
• What kinds of arguments were
put forward and were they based on fact, reason or emotion?
• Was it easier to find arguments
for or against the students?
• Where did people get their
• Was the problem resolved and
was everyone happy with the outcome?
• Was it a fair solution or did
one side have to give up more than the other?
• What alternative solutions
could there have been?
2: The situation in real life
Once everybody has had a chance to speak,
you should help the group to analyse and reflect about the
issues involved. You can launch the debate by addressing
questions such as:
• Did the roleplay reflect any
reality in daily life? What were the similarities and what
were the differences? Did anything seem to be exaggerated?
• Which of the characters most
faithfully reflected attitudes common in our society?
• When we face a conflict involving
people from different cultural backgrounds do we look for
a solution that may satisfy everybody, or do we rather try
to impose our point of view and neglect those who think
or feel differently from ourselves?
• To what extent is the conflict
actually related to differences in culture rather than to
other things such as personal or economic interests?
• Has anyone experience of this
sort of conflict? What were the circumstances? If this hasn't
happened to you, why is that?
Tips for the facilitator
Pay careful attention to how the role play
is going because what happens will affect the way you facilitate,
for example you may not need to use the clues for finding
a solution cards and afterwards when you lead the discussion
you will have to decide how to balance the discussion between
analysing the group dynamics, group decision making processes
and relating the issues to real life.
Note that there are two different "clues
for finding a solution" cards; card 1 for the "chair"
and card 2 for the other players. Who gets card 1 will depend
on what has happened in the roleplay so far. If it has already
been democratically decided that a particular person should
chair the meeting then give card 1 to that person, otherwise
give it to the Leader of the resident's committee.
Finding solutions to problems and making
decisions are difficult processes. People need to have
good communication skills, to be sensitive to the needs
of others and to show imagination and trust so that they
can explore the issues honestly.
It is easier when people argue about their
interests and try to find some common ground or consensus
for mutual gain so that each person has some of their needs
met and a stake in the outcome.
Unfortunately all too often people argue
from a position which they then reluctantly have to abandon
and compromise so that in the end everyone feels they have
lost something rather than gained.
It is important that during the evaluation
you try to make the group aware of and distinguish between
the attitudes we often adopt to foreigners or people who
are different and the ways in which we deal with the concrete,
everyday problems involving interpersonal and communication
Suggestions for follow up
Ask the participants to consider, in the
light of what they have learned from doing this activity,
what practical steps they can take to improve the relations
between different groups who live in the local community.
Put the plans into action.
If you want to follow up issues about national
identity, you could use the activity 'National
Holiday'. Alternatively, if you are interested in exploring
prejudice and conflict within the family, try 'Guess
who's coming to dinner'.
If you want another way to round off 'In
our block' you may be interested in discussing the
critical incident in section C/15 of Alien 93. It centres
round a about a refugee centre in a small rural village.
Or, if you want to talk about fitting in where you live,
you may like to discuss Melanie's story in 'Stories
told by young people', section 4 of Domino. She
is half Swiss and half Ivory Coast and tells about her feelings
Was it possible to meet the needs of everyone
living in the block? Is it possible to create public buildings
and public spaces that meet the needs of everyone in the
locality? The group may like to think about some of the
forces that drive development and to explore how local development
does, or does not, meet the needs of local people. Try 'Garden
in a night' in Compass.
Your job as an observer is to watch what happens very
carefully and to make notes to feedback in the discussion
at the end of the roleplay.
Things to note are:
• Do the players respect each
others turn to speak or do some people but in or does everyone
try to speak at once or do one or two people try to impose
their point of view?
• Does anyone try to take a lead
and to facilitate the meeting?
• What kinds of arguments did
• Was there any change in the
attitude and behaviour of the players after they received
the "clues for finding a solution"?
CARD 1 - CLUES FOR FINDING A SOLUTION
This card is for the person who is chairing the
Note: If, so far in the roleplay, no one has
been democratically elected to chair, then this card
is for the Leader of the Residents Committee.
1) Chair: You have already
been democratically elected to chair the meeting continue
to do so. Follow the tips below.
2) Leader of the Residents committee:
So far in the role play no one has been elected to
chair the meeting so suggest that the meeting needs
a chair and that it should be democratically decided
who it is. Propose that you be chair because of your
position as leader on the residents committee. If
the others agree keep this card and follow the tips
for the chair below. If someone else is elected pass
this card to them and take their card in exchange.
Tips for the chair of the meeting
It is your job to keep order and facilitate the meeting.
You should try to make sure that:
• Everybody has a chance to speak
• People respect each others
turn to speak
• If necessary, set a limit of
time for each contribution and do not let the players go
beyond that limit
• Do not allow abusive language
and make sure people keep to the issue and don't deviate
• Try to move the discussion
on and keep it positive
• Keep people on track; the aim
is to find a solution to the problem.
CARD 2 - CLUES FOR FINDING A SOLUTION
To be given to each player except the Chair.
Think about what you can do, within your role, to
try to find a solution:
• Listen actively and respect
the right of everyone to have their say
• Try to relate what you
have to say to what has been said previously.
• When it's your turn to
speak start with a summary of what the person who
spoke before you has said.
• Try to distinguish between
the facts and your opinions
• Try not to divert the
discussion but keep to the point, focus on the problem
of the students and the need to find a solution, do
not bring in other facts, opinions or ideas that you