Theme I & M
The multi-cultural dimension of our societies
is expressed in many different ways and forms. The 'footprints'
of other cultures are everywhere so that very often we don't
even notice them. This activity allows participants to trail
the signs of multi-culturalism and to take a new look at
the social environment around them.
• We live in an interdependent world:
our countries are dependent on each other.
• In every society we find clues
to the presence of different cultures.
• The relationship between different
cultures and the recognition that their mutual influence
on each other enriches both.
• To enable participants to identify
the influences of other cultures on their own society and
contributions they make.
• To value the influences positively.
Part A: planning the activity: 30
Part B: trailing: 2 - 2 1/2 hours.
Part C: reporting back: 1 hour
Part D: the exhibition (Optional):
If you are able to collect pictures, films, recordings
etc. you will need to allow extra time for the preparation
of the exhibition.
A minimum of 10 and a maximum of 25 people.
• For part A you will need
paper, pens and flip charts and markers of different colours.
• For part B the materials
required will depend on the resources available. Ideally
video recorders or cameras and tape recorders may be used.
However, if these are not available, participants may
simply make a list of the "footprints" that they
• For part D if the participants
are able to take photos or tape recordings you should arrange
a space and time for these to be displayed and heard.
Part A: Planning
1. Split the participants into groups with
a maximum of six people per group.
2. Tell each group that they are to explore
their local environment (village, city district, town) and
look for "footprints" from other countries and
cultures and to make a list of their findings and document
them through pictures, sound recordings, video, etc. (or
simply make a list, if the groups are short of resources).
3. Brain-storm some of the areas where people
might look for the "footprints":
Gastronomy: foods and spices from
other cultures which are now used in their own cooking,
restaurants from abroad, drinks, etc.
Garments and fashion: clothes which
originally came from other countries and cultures, shoes
or clothes made abroad and imported, etc.
Music: Check the music programmes
on FM radio stations. Listen for music from other countries
in public places such as coffee bars, pubs and discos. Look
out for any places, which specialise in music from certain
areas or countries.
Mass media: compare different TV
channels for foreign programmes incorporated into their
Language: words from the other countries,
which we use in our daily lives.
Part B: Trailing
1. Ask the groups to plan a time during
the next week when they can spend 2 hours exploring their
environment (village, city district, town etc.) and look
for "footprints" from other countries and cultures.
Part C: Presentation
1. Ask each group to present the conclusions
of their research and make a brief summary of the things
2. Help the participants prepare an exhibition
with the documentation they made of the "footprints".
This will help them get a global vision of the collective
work done during part B.
Debriefing and evaluation
The presentations should finish
with a discussion. You can facilitate the evaluation with
• Were there any surprises?
• What is the significance of the
fact that there are so many "footprints" from
other countries and cultures around us?
• How do we value the fact that there
is a growing knowledge about other cultures and societies,
even when this knowledge is partial or very superficial?
• What does this knowledge bring
• What limits does it have?
• Would it be useful to increase
• How could we do that?
• Could you detect any patterns or
trends in the 'footprints'?
• Do more come from some countries
rather than from others?
• Why is that?
Tips for the facilitator
It is very important that you motivate the
groups so that they enjoy the activity. For example, you
could stimulate people by comparing the research to a detective
story, a voyage of discovery or an adventure.
It is also important to stress that the
research is supposed to be a collective effort.
In the discussion try to draw out:
• That we live in an interdependent
world and that our countries are dependent on each other.
In every society we always find evidence of the presence
of different cultures.
• The technological and communication
revolution provides us with enormous possibilities for mutual
exchange and knowledge.
• The relationship between different
cultures and their mutual influence on each other enriches
• The contributions from each culture
should be valued as such and not in the context of the country
or society from which they originally come.
If possible, and if the participants agree,
you may invite people from other countries or cultures (related
to the findings) to visit the exhibition, for example a
disk-jockey from a radio station, somebody from a local
minority association, somebody working in a shop etc.
Suggestions for follow up
You might like to share your exhibition
with others. Have an open evening and invite people from
local groups and organisations.
It is easy to accept the things we like
from other cultures such as food and drink, but often the
people who come are not so welcome. What happens when your
neighbours have different customs and habits and are not
so easy to get on with? You can explore some of the issues
in 'In our block'.
Alternatively, if you are interested in
what may happen when different cultures meet, you might
like to try the simulation game 'The island'.
You could also follow up 'trailing
diversity' by taking a map of the world and using
pins and threads trace the paths people have taken from
their countries of origin to your own. You could also trace
the paths of emigration from your country to other parts
of the world. If you do this you will end up with a web
of threads covering the map showing how economically and
politically interdependent people all over the world are.
You may like to take this idea of making global connections
further and try to make a web that shows our interdependent
relationship with the environment. The activity, 'The
web of life' in Compass helps people understand
how they are part of the environment and not apart from
it. It illustrates the inevitability of the impact of all
human activity on the environment, and the consequences.