Arts Based and Action Oriented Methods

Why Use Arts-Based Methods in Intercultural Learning?
By Maaria Tuhkunen

When applying artistic thinking and arts-based action to build intercultural competences, the aim and the perspective differ from making “art for art’s sake”. The context can be found somewhere between educational, therapeutic, participatory and community art. One essential thing about using arts-based methods is that everyone is welcome to participate, regardless of one’s skills or previous experience. Another is that the process, in this case the process of learning, is equally as important as the artistic outcome itself. Nevertheless, the work can be expressive in an interesting way and aesthetically rewarding, depending on how the action is framed and facilitated.

As a term “arts-based” refers to seeing art as a tool rather than as an absolute value, such as an end product. However, in order to understand why art works particularly well as a means of intercultural learning, one must acknowledge some characteristics art has. Some specific features can be recognised in all arts-based action whether it is creating images or objects, making music or drama, or dancing or writing – whatever form the fundamental human need to create takes.

Art is holistic and multisensory by its nature, activating and engaging people mentally, emotionally, physically and socially. An arts-based approach to an issue makes the underlying knowledge visible and embodies otherwise easily hidden information of individuals and groups. This approach helps valuable knowledge based on the participants’ subjective experience emerge. (Joy & Sherry, 2003.) Art often gives a concrete form for something abstract that then becomes tangible and thus easier to comprehend and to discuss. Art complements language as a visual or bodily means of expression can help when words are not enough to communicate one’s emotions and ideas - or when people have no common language, literally or metaphorically speaking. Sometimes poetry captures a person’s experience more accurately than everyday language.

Through art one can create a shared mental and/or physical space off the mundane, everyday life: a space where everything is possible. This is one of the fundamentals in any improvisational work, for example: there are no mistakes or wrong answers, only new discoveries. Especially working with fiction offers a frame, or a mental laboratory, in which people can safely explore our inner world and find alternative ways to experience the world around us. Not being limited to the boundaries of “realities” and “facts” enables people to unleash more creative capacity. This kind of open “what if” thinking improves our ability to find new solutions, even for the most complex and daunting challenges.

Arts-based methods reinforce creative spontaneity (Hamilton & Taylor, 2017), which is the gateway to play, a distinctive action and a basic need for humans, not unlike many other species. Making art is itself a manifestation of play, most easily associated with dramatic arts but connected with any creative activity. Often linked with play is the concept of flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 2008): concentrating fully on the task with a non-judgemental attitude, being strongly present in the here-and-now, mere current action itself making one feel happy and satisfied.

Arts-based methods improve empathy (Leavy, 2015) by providing tools for sharing the experience of being a human being. Art can be used to build a shared, creative space for interacting and encountering, regardless of the participants’ cultural or subcultural background, sex or gender, age, education or social or economic status. Art also offers opportunities to explore one’s identity and existential issues –  universal questions of who am I, what is my place in this world, how do I connect with other human beings and why are we here on this planet. This opportunity to explore together with learning more about one’s own nature and abilities through arts-based activities, increases self-knowledge and further enhances the ability to put oneself in another person’s position.

Working with art can develop one’s flexibility to face the unknown (Cahnmann-Taylor & Siegesmund, 2017) while giving opportunities to interact safely with things that are different from the norm. Artistic thinking can be seen as a wider perspective than methods: a general attitude of exploring phenomena without prejudice, and a curious and open view on the world. Art often brings people closer to the ambiguous and obscure, also the strange and imperfect in themselves. It provides breathing space when trying to grasp what is happening in the world around us - inevitably at some point all humans face things that are incomprehensible. One of the basic elements of art, like in nature and human life, is the alternation of chaos and order. Although people tend to avoid chaos, both are needed to create something new. Also, the more courage one has to experience and encounter feelings of uncertainty and confusion, the easier it is to understand and respect views and opinions that are different. Being in contact with art helps one see the grey areas instead of only black and white, and realise how several things can be true at the same time, depending on the perspective.

As mentioned before, arts-based methods engage humans wholly, bio-psycho-socio-cultural beings in the learning process through artistic action. However, if people only do things – be it play, movement, visual images, sound or something else – without pausing to contemplate the meaning of the action, it becomes mere recreation. (Which also has value.) Reflection connected to action (Knill & Levine & Levine, 2005) is a fundamental part of experiential learning, integrating the experience to one’s everyday life. As David Kolb said, “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb, 1984, p. 38).

This experiential learning process requires one first to become aware of thoughts, feelings and emotions invoked by the activity and share the subjective experience one had during the process. And then one must explore the meaning and the information the experience carries by asking: What new understanding do I bring to my daily life from this experience?

ARTS-BASED AND ACTION-ORIENTED LEARNING

ICEBREAKERS
Icebreakers are a great way to build group spirit and open up dialogue for intercultural learning. The following examples touch on intercultural learning themes.

Finland: Sivistysliitto Kansalaisfoorumi SKAF ry Improvisation Theatre By Sanna-Maija Karjalainen
Edited by Maaria Tuhkunen

The Netherlands: Stichting Hogeschool Rotterdam Five Fingers Exercise By Mascha Letiche

Romania: Orizont Cultural T Drawing portraits By Rodica Miala & Roxana Timplaru

 

FINLAND - Sivistysliitto Kansalaisfoorumi SKAF ry
By Sanna-Maija Karjalainen. Edited by Maaria Tuhkunen.

Improvisational Theatre: Drama with an object
Improvisational theatre is a form of live theatre in which the plot, characters, and dialogue are created in the moment, without a script. It is also a form of applied drama which, in addition to creative action, studies and develops human interaction. Improvisation creates a free, creative space for everyone to express themselves and develop their own creativity. Improvisation can enhance playfulness, spontaneity, and the use of the imagination. Additionally, it can create a positive atmosphere and be a tool to build group spirit. The core principle of improvisation is to be open to and to accept any idea that anyone offers in the form of dialogue or physical action.

In this case study, this method was used with multicultural groups that do not speak the same language.

The purpose and aim(s) of this exercise
Build group spirit and improve nonverbal communication skills.

How and/or why this exercise helps in learning intercultural competence?
This exercise works well with groups that do not speak the same language, as physicality is used to express ideas and activities, rather than spoken language.

Additionally, playfulness helps to build acceptance of other people and creates a positive atmosphere. In a creative state “anything can happen”: people feel freer to express important issues. When given the opportunity to reflect on these issues, people can notice and break stereotypes and develop better understanding of one another.

Suitable for the following themes
Any of the following themes can be used. Additionally, this method is a good way to discover other themes that are of particular interest to the participants.
1. Cultural self-awareness and acceptance
2. Understanding equality and freedom
3. Noticing and breaking stereotypes and prejudices
4. Cultural knowledge
5. Building group spirit by sharing ideas and viewpoints.

Number of participants
3-40 participants

Duration
From 5 minutes up to 20 or as long as new ideas are invented

Materials
One object: a stick or another simple object

Step by step description of the exercise
Round 1:
Have the participants stand in a circle. Introduce a stick or any simple object to the participants and ask them to play with the object—or part of it—using it for a purpose other than what it is normally used. (Possible examples of playing with a simple stick would be brushing teeth, playing the violin, singing into a microphone or playing tennis.) Encourage the participants to explore freely and emphasise that there are no wrong answers. Ask them to express their idea without speaking, using only movement, mime and gesture. Each participant should have a turn to play with the object.

Round 2:
Repeat round 1 with the following addition: Ask other participants to join the action as soon as they understand the meaning by introducing another corresponding action. As more than one participant can join the action, the original idea can evolve. Each person should take a turn starting an action for others to join in and add to.

Tips for the facilitator
It is important to remind the group that every idea is a good idea. Ask the participants to accept any actions and ideas they recognise coming from themselves and from the other participants. Remind them to help each other instead of worrying about themselves succeeding.

When improvising together, there is always the possibility for misunderstanding another’s action. Encourage the participants to be flexible and change their mind set as new interpretations occur.

NETHERLANDS - Stichting Hogeschool Rotterdam
By Mascha Letiche

Five Finger Exercise – Ice Breaker

The purpose and aim(s) of this exercise
This exercise can be used as an opening exercise (a warm up) to make people think about their ideas, beliefs, goals and/or expectations. It is a very accessible first step.

How and/or why this exercise helps in learning intercultural competence?
This is an introduction exercise. When used at the beginning of a training or workshop on intercultural competences, it will help to state a starting point for each participant. The participants will state their goals, their qualities and their weaknesses on the topic of the training.

This exercise will help the participants take a closer look at themselves and develop cultural self-awareness. It is the first step in reflecting on oneself and getting more insight. But many people find reflecting on their actions difficult. It can be a painful process. However, this insight is the first step towards behavioral change, more intercultural competence.

The drawing of the hand, the fun part of the different meanings of the fingers, makes this a very accessible exercise. The objective is to engage people in reflection without immediately making the content so serious.

Sharing and talking about the drawings and the different thoughts of the participants is a form of collective learning, and can also contribute to individual intercultural learning.

Suitable for the following themes
1. Cultural self-awareness and acceptance
2. Understanding equality and freedom
3. Noticing and breaking stereotypes and prejudices
4. Cultural knowledge
5. Building group spirit by sharing ideas and viewpoints. Opening up a dialogue can help people connect.

This exercise has a very individual and personal part which may help participants work on their cultural self-awareness. And the sharing of these personal viewpoints can bring cultural knowledge to others.

Number of participants
12 people is ideal.

This exercise can be done by one or an indefinite number of people at the same time. For discussion afterwards at least 2 people and a maximum of 30 people could join in. Having about 12 participants is ideal. This is enough participants to hear different viewpoints. But it is not too many so a discussion is still possible.

Duration
50 mins up to 3 hours, depending on length of discussion

Explaining this exercise can take 5-10 minutes. If you want to give the participants an example it can take longer. This should normally not be necessary but could be a good idea for example when people do not know the spoken (and written) language that well.

To make the drawing and answer the questions, people need about 10 minutes.

The plenary discussion can take 5 minutes up to 2 hours, depending on the amount of people and the goals that were set. When doing this exercise with 12 participants as a first step in reflection, an afterward discussion of at least half an hour is useful.

Materials
1 sheet of paper per participant (can be light coloured sheets).

Pens or pencils, for drawing the outline of the hands and writing answers to the questions.Sticky tape is optional, to hang the drawings on the wall for everyone to see.

Step by step description of the exercise
In all countries people overlay messages with hands/ fingers. Many of them are internationally similar. It is a way of speaking without necessarily knowing each other's spoken language.

The thumb means it's good. The index finger is used to point in a direction. The middle finger is the least polite gesture, meaning the person dislikes something or someone a lot. The ring-finger is in many countries meant for the wedding ring, what's in a name. And the little finger or pinkie is the smallest of them all.

  1. Participants draw an outline of their hand on a piece of paper. It makes no difference if they choose their right or left hand.

  2. Explain the meaning of every finger in relation to a chosen theme. An introduction exercise for example on the first day of a training course or workshop about intercultural competence, used to state the starting points of all the participants.

  3. Answer the questions that accompany every finger, see below.

·       Thumb: What are your qualities in intercultural competency?

·       Index finger: What do you want to achieve? What is your goal for this training / workshop?

·       Middle finger: What really annoys you on the topic of intercultural competency? What do you really dislike?

·       Ring finger: What are you ‘married’ to? What are things that you definitely don’t want to change?

·       Pinkie or little finger: What part of intercultural competency are you small at and would you like to grow in, become better at?”

  1. This step is optional: discussing the drawings within the group. It depends on the end goal of the training if it's advisory. A group discussion can help people understand the views of others and gain cultural knowledge. It might give them helpful ideas. Another positive thing about sharing is that part of reaching a goal is owning it. So, stating one’s goal to others might be the first step in achieving that goal.

Tips for the facilitator
Keep in mind that this is or can be a very personal exercise. The drawing of one’s own hand is an example of this very personal part. And in the answering of the questions there is no true or false. There is only the view of the person doing the exercise. The drawings with the answers to the questions will reflect a very personal point of view.

Because of this personal point of view, sharing it with the group should be optional and not mandatory.

It is important to state at the beginning of the exercise what the rules/ expectations about sharing are. Participants should know this before writing the answers to the questions in their drawings. Sharing is most of the time a good thing but making it mandatory is not.

When this exercise is done completely in the beginning of a training course, participants do no’t know each other yet and it might not yet feel like a safe environment to share personal stories (insecurities and goals).

People might have difficulty answering a question. This should not be seen as a failure. It very helpfully points out with what questions a person is still struggling and how comfortable they are with reflecting on themselves.

Using this exercise for other purposes
This exercise can be translated to many different situations. For example: It can be used in the Community of Practice (CoP) as a first analysis of a (meaningful) situation.

Source
This exercise is an adaptation from an internal training document used by ReWork, a Dutch Integration Company.

ROMANIA - Orizont Cultural T
By Rodica Miala & Roxana Timplaru

Drawing Portraits: Through Your Eyes (An Icebreaker)
A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, especially depicting the face and its expression.  The purpose is to display the likeness, personality or even mood of the person. The most famous portrait is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.

This method is an icebreaker and can be used to introduce the idea of viewing the world from other perspectives.

The purpose and aim(s) of this exercise
The aim of this warmup is to introduce people to one another and build group spirit.

How and/or why this exercise helps in learning intercultural competence?
This method can be a great tool to open up a dialogue on prejudices and stereotypes and different perspectives. Depending on the level of artistic ability, the resulting portrait may take the form of a caricature, a specific type of portrait in which certain emotions or features are simplified or exaggerated.

Suitable for the following themes
1.                  Noticing and breaking stereotypes and prejudices
2.                  Building group spirit by sharing ideas and viewpoints.

Number of participants
12-20 participants ideally.

Duration
30 minutes to 1 hour depending on number of participants, and length of discussion following the activity. More time can be delegated for more detailed pictures. 

Materials
In the case study, participants used paper and crayons. However, the facilitator can choose other mediums such as charcoal and erasers, pencil, pens, coloured pencils, markers, paints, watercolours etc.

Step by step description of the exercise

  1. Split the participants into 2 groups, and have them form 2 concentric circles sitting face to face.

  2. Place the art materials in between the two circles, the inner and outer circles.

  3. Ask the participants in the outer circle to start drawing or painting the portrait of the person sitting opposite to them in the inner circle.

  4. After 2 minutes, have the participants in the outer circle move one space to the left or right and continue working on the next person’s drawing. Continue moving spaces until each artist in the outer circle has the opportunity to contribute to each model’s portrait in the inner circle.

  5. Switch groups, so that the models become the artists and vice versa.

  6. Hold a debriefing/reflection about the individual portraits and how the participants feel about them.

    1. What did you like most about your portrait?

    2. What is the emotional impact of the image?

    3. What features have been caricaturised/exaggerated?

    4. What features have been diminished?

Tips for the facilitator
Not all participants may be happy with the resulting painting. Offering a chance for the person to alter their portrait/caricature based on their perspective may alleviate negative feelings. 

As most of the portraits may take the form of caricatures, include objects and dialogue bubbles, this is an opportunity to explore features or symbols of exaggeration which may expose prejudices or stereotypes.

 

ARTS-BASED AND ACTION-ORIENTED LEARNING

METHODS AND EXERCISES
The following represents a collection of some of the arts-based and action-oriented methods piloted across the six partners. The methods and exercises are written by the various facilitators, educators or artists and include highlights of their pilot case examples and the various community groups who participated. Each of these methods has been adapted to suit one or more of the following intercultural learning themes:
1.                  Cultural self-awareness and acceptance
2.                  Understanding equality and freedom
3.                  Noticing and breaking stereotypes and prejudices
4.                  Cultural knowledge
5.                  Building group spirit by sharing ideas and viewpoints. Opening up a dialogue can help people connect.

Finland: Physical Storytelling By Minttu-Maaria Makkonen
Sivistysliitto Kansalaisfoorumi SKAF ry Edited by Maaria Tuhkunen

Italy: Overview of working with By Carolina Carotta
Istituto dei Sordi di Torino d/Deaf By Enrico Dolza
Visiting the museums! By Sofia Mastrokoukou

Netherlands: My Intercultural Hero By Anja Stofberg
Stichting Hogeschool Rotterdam Reflecting in Groups

Northern Ireland Collages By Sarah Stack
Training for Women Network Muralism

Poland Community Theatre By Iwona Miroslaw-Dolecka
Dom Kultury Kadr

Romania Intercultural festivals By Rodica Miala
Orizont Cultural T By Roxana Timplaru

 

FINLAND - Sivistysliitto Kansalaisfoorumi SKAF ry
By Minttu-Maaria Makkonen. Edited by Maaria Tuhkunen.

Physical storytelling
Physical theatre is a genre that encompasses storytelling primarily through physical expression, although it can be combined with creative writing. Participants express different situations, incidents, relationships, power, emotions, culture, status and dynamics between different people through movement, gestures or positions. For example, still image is an improvisational tool where the participants create an image using their bodies like “modelling clay”, with no movement or sound. Here expressing oneself physically is combined with creative writing. Finally, physical theatre is a great equaliser as everyone can participate no matter their artistic abilities or physical limitations.

The included case study was piloted with multicultural groups who spoke different languages.

The purpose and aim(s) of this exercise
Create a story about culture and identity using bodily experience. Explore body memory and one’s physical relationship with the world and other people. Understand and manipulate one’s physicality to express emotions, ideas and concepts relating to interculturality. Observe others as they try various roles. Participate in critical thinking about effective and appropriate body language and expression.

How and/or why this exercise helps in learning intercultural competence?
Theatre and drama can provide a safe space to observe others and try various roles through play and creativity. Movement or images can communicate attitudes and share knowledge without needing to speak. By experiencing others’ perspectives in various roles, participants are able to notice and break down stereotypes, examine shared experiences critically, and develop deeper understanding of cultural influences. Finally, combining drama with creative writing can deepen understanding of experiences of cultural identity, memories, attitudes and opinions.

Suitable for the following themes

Example workshop 1: I am…
1.                  Cultural self-awareness and acceptance
2.                  Noticing and breaking stereotypes and prejudices
3.                  Building group spirit by sharing ideas and viewpoints

Example workshop 2: I am part of…
1.                  Cultural self-awareness and acceptance
2.                  Noticing and breaking stereotypes and prejudices
3.                  Cultural knowledge
4.                  Building group spirit by sharing ideas and viewpoints

Number of participants
4-20 participants

Duration
Example workshop 1: 60 minutes
Example workshop 2: 30 minutes

Materials
Plenty of postcards or a variety of other images (for example cut from papers) for the participants to choose from. Writing paper, pens or pencils for everyone.

Step by step description of the exercise

1. Building trust
First, it is important to create a safe space. This can be accomplished through simple games and improvisational exercises where the participants are brought into contact with each other.  Playful exercises and games lay a base for doing the actual theatre exercises. Ensure ground rules around confidentiality and respect have been agreed, as sometimes participants will share personal stories as part of the workshop.

2. Movement exercise –  releasing the mind and body
Exercises that make the participants focus on physical action can help them be more present here and now, release physical tension and provide a mental break, allowing participants to open up and be expressive. Movement exercises can also make visible how the participants experience the world around them.

3. Creative writing  – reflecting and observing the inner experience
When writing, participants are able to critically think and reflect on feelings and attitudes. Writing inner thoughts and feelings can help develop cultural awareness and acceptance. Let the participants know that it is not necessary to share what they wrote with others, but they can if they want to. Participants may also draw or tell their stories to one another if writing is not an option.

4. Storytelling –  making them visible, physical
Afterwards, ask the group to develop scenes or stories using movements or physical images inspired by the writing/storytelling process. The aim of physical storytelling is to highlight different ways of thinking and different experiences of the group members. In this step, participants can share their own experiences and understanding of different cultures through movement, gestures or poses. Emphasise the ground rules of confidentiality and respect, especially when participants are sharing private information. In creating the physical story, participants can try different roles and observe others, viewing the world from different perspectives.

5. Feedback and reflection
Once the participants act out their final piece, it is time to gather feedback. The group should be informed that the purpose of the feedback is to clarify the scenes and deepen the imagery. Guide the participants to keep the feedback positive and constructive.

Example workshop 1: I am…

1. Building trust
Arrange the participants in a circle in chairs with one standing in the middle. (The number of chairs should be one less than the number of the participants so that there is someone sitting in each chair.) This participant completes the sentence “I am…” by telling something about his/herself. (For example, “I am a woman, I am a vegetarian, I am a little sister”.) Participants who identify with the statement stand up and find a new seat, including the person in the centre. The remaining person standing stays in the middle and makes a new “I am…” sentence to which the others then respond to. Repeat until the group is more comfortable with one another.

2. Movement exercise (through still image)
Have the participants stand in a loose circle. One of the participants starts a still image in the middle by creating a “sculpture” using his/her body saying aloud the idea. (For example, “I am a tree” and creating the shape of a tree with his or her body.) The elements of the still image can be anything from concrete objects or living things to abstract ideas like the wind or fear. Next, one at a time, the surrounding participants join the “living sculpture” by adding an element that suits the whole image created thus far. Encourage the participants to create a collective image together by listening and watching each other carefully. The image is finished when everyone is a part of it. The participant that started the previous image decides who stays and starts the next image by giving another verbal and physical idea. Repeat this cycle as many times as desired.

3. Creative writing
Spread the postcards or images on the floor or on a table and have the participants take a look at them. Ensure there are plenty of images to choose from. Ask them to select an image that reflects some features that they recognise in themselves. (“I am…”). Ask them to write or draw for 5 minutes about why they selected that image. Next have the participants underline all the verbs on the text they wrote. 

4. Storytelling (through movement)
Ask everyone to create a series of 2-3 movements that are inspired by the underlined verbs. The participants work on their movements individually all at the same time. Divide the participants into groups of 4, and ask the groups to stand in shape of a diamond, facing in the same direction so that one member of the group is in the front. The participant standing in the front does his/her series of movement as the others in the group copy the movements at the same time. Encourage the movers to have a pace that is easy to follow. Then the group rotates so that someone else is in front and leads the movement, until the group has completed everyone’s series of movements. All the groups work at the same time.

5. Feedback and reflection Ask the group members to stay with the small groups and say aloud individual words that describe their feelings, emotions and thoughts that the movement exercise aroused. Give the small groups a few minutes to reflect on what was said and come up with sentence that crystallises a theme shared by the small group. Have the small groups share their sentences with the whole group. Open a discussion with the whole group if there is a desire to continue sharing.

Example workshop 2: I am part of...

1. Building trust
Have the participants move about the room. Then ask them to form different groups without using words based on similarities given by the facilitator. Examples of possible criteria of forming a group can be people with the same clothes style, same eye colour, or same age. If working with people who do not speak the same language, the instructor can provide examples using images or gesturing such as eyes, clothes, height.

2. Movement exercise (“Mother hen and chicks”)
Next have the participants form small groups with random people. Have the group select one “mother” while the rest of the members will be “chicks”. Using her/his hand as a guide, the “mother” drives the “chicks” around the room. The “chicks” follow the hand wherever it goes. Emphasise that he “mother” is in charge of taking care of the chicks. If there are participants with physical limitations, this step can be performed stationary, only moving the eyes or torso, for example, or touching hands.

3. Creative writing
Next ask the participants to write a text starting with the sentence “I am part of…” using their own language. When finished writing, ask the participants to choose one sentence or word from their text that they feel comfortable sharing in a small group.

4. Storytelling (through still image)
Have the participants go into the same small groups from step 2 so they can share their selected sentences or words. After sharing the texts, ask them to create a still image using their bodies, inspired by the texts shared.

5. Feedback and reflection
Have the small groups share their still images with the whole group. Have the participants tell, write or draw about the associations that each still image created in their minds. Emphasise to the participants that any interpretation or association is possible and that there are no wrong answers. The small groups can also continue working with their themes by creating scenes based on their still images.

Tips for the facilitator
It is important that the facilitator understands that each person may participate at a different level and in their own way, giving consideration for different abilities, such as physical limitations or limited writing skills.

The group can be reminded that the main goal is not making a performance but exploring together the themes that come up. This element is especially important when working with participants that are not familiar with working with drama or movement.

 

 

 

ITALY - Istituto dei Sordi di Torino
By Carolina Carotta, Enrico Dolza and Sofia Mastrokoukou

Overview of working with d/Deaf
“Some people there are who, being grown, forget the horrible task of learning to read. It is perhaps the greatest single effort that the human undertakes, and he must do it as a child. An adult is rarely successful in the undertaking – the reduction of experience to a set of symbols. For a thousand thousand years these humans have existed and they have only learned this trick – this magic – in the final ten thousand of the thousand thousand.”

John Steinbeck - The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights

The acquisition of oral language is as difficult for d/Deaf people as it is for hearing people to acquire  a foreign language without having ever heard it.. The lack of hearing involves the lack of the automatic learning of a language’s grammar structures by way of a kind of "rote learning" of the language. Spoken language by d/Deaf people is basically learned in contexts of formal education, with methods and results partially similar to those of hearing people learning a foreign language. The knowledge of spoken language of d/Deaf people depends on many elements: the level of deafness (severe deafness, mild deafness), how deafness is seen (a disability or a way-to-be in the world, so an identity), the age of exposure to a language (any language: sign language or spoken language), the family and the social environment…

That’s why the job of educators working with d/Deaf people involves more tasks, simply from a practical point of view. Tasks like adapting written language (1), using appropriate material (2), speaking in sign language (3) and paying attention to some recommendations (4).

1)  To adapt the written language means making it easier by simplifying sentences, without changing the content. In order to do that in the right way, it’s important to know d/Deaf people’s mistakes:

-      in vocabulary (poor vocabulary, knowledge of few words; rigid vocabulary, knowledge of the most common meaning only; omission of words, the absence of a word that should have appeared in the sentence; substitution of a word by the use of a wrong one; presence of words not necessary in the sentence);

-      in morphology (abnormal use of articles, conjunctions, simple and articulated prepositions, clitic pronouns, problems with verb and noun agreements);

-      in syntax (non-standard forms in the structure of the sentences of all kinds: negative, interrogative and declarative; overuse of coordinating and underuse of subordinating phrases; disorder in phrasing when using passive voice; disorder in phrasing when using indirect speech);

-      in semantics (not understanding proverbs, idioms, ironic and metaphorical expressions; tendency to interpret the meaning of words and sentences from the context, using extra-linguistic information and their knowledge of the world, rather than decoding what is written).

Practically, the adaptation starts from the grammatical structure. Subject/verb/object, which is the easiest structure of phrasing: using too many subordinated or dependent clauses increases the risk of a person losing the subject or the whole meaning of the text. Secondly, vocabulary that is too hard to understand because it is not used in every day speech should be replaced with synonyms that are more common, with semantic expressions explained.

 This kind of work on written texts should not be seen as a demeaning production of explanations with less value. On the contrary, the new texts are worthy because they are comprehensible to anyone, accessible to people who received poor schooling, people who are literate and to historians… that means that the text becomes accessible for all, and not only for a portion of the people.

2) For appropriate materials, use mainly visual ones: photos, paintings, drawings, PowerPoint files. Those materials are flexible: they can be cut, enlarged, changed, made touchable and can be positioned wherever they are useful. Visual elements help everyone’s memory, even more if they are touchable. Designing and personalising materials is challenging work: the educator has to think about the competence level and abilities that each person has to improve. Moreover, the adaptation of the materials needs lots of time. Capturing the real interest of each student is another huge effort because even with a target group like adults, a boring topic will certainly reduce attention and motivation.

3) Translation in sign language: translation in the language used by the Deaf community. Contrary to what you might believe, sign languages are not pantomime, but are true languages in all respects, with their own grammar and syntax, and are used daily by many deaf people. Deaf people who use sign language as their mother tongue claim to belong to the Deaf Community and feel embodied in the values of the deaf culture.

4) Deaf people have huge difficulties in receiving external information through sound and they depend a lot on sight if they want to understand what other people say. For that reason, it is important to keep in mind some general suggestions in order to improve communication and competence when working with deaf people: catch the attention of the deaf person before talking: a slight flick on the shoulder or on the arm or a sign in the air in his/her direction to catch the eye; put oneself in front of the deaf person and stay near while talking; when speaking to someone who is deaf accompanied by an interpreter, maintain eye contact directly with the person who is deaf, not with the interpreter; ensure that during the conversation there are no objects between the person who is talking and the deaf person, so that the view is unobstructed; make sure that the deaf person clearly sees the face and the mouth of the person that is talking; do not chew, do not smoke or keep a hand in front of your face; do not put yourself in places where a point of light is at your back, for example a window, or in poorly lighted places; it is not useful to amplify the lip movements. In fact, this kind of exaggeration – instead of helping – hinders comprehension! Also the use of a louder voice is not useful while talking with a deaf person because it changes normal lip movements; use face and body expressions in order to make the message clear; when possible, reduce background noises.

Nowadays, it is clear how working with a group of d/Deaf people (for any reason) means to be working with a heterogeneous group that includes all kinds of people. Also, there are different kinds of d/Deaf identity which affects the knowledge level of the topic addressed. For example, a d/Deaf person that wears no hearing-aid and uses sign language as his mother language will have different methodological needs compared to a d/Deaf person that uses oral language and has residual hearing. Also, special requests will be different: a signer (a d/Deaf person that uses sign language as his mother language) asks mainly for translation in sign language, whereas an oralist (a d/Deaf person that has residual hearing and lip-reads) asks for subtitles or easier texts.

Over the past 20 years, societies have undergone great changes on the anthropological-cultural level: with the arrival of the various waves of migration, social structures and the organisation of education and health services have had to deal with this new reality. Among the arrivals, there are also d/Deaf people, with new and different requests for services. This development forces educators to rethink, or at least to look with different eyes at the solutions adopted so far. As such, the aim of this method is to encourage participants to get to know their roots both as people coming from different environments and as Deaf people, to see themselves as “cultural” beings, to encourage people to be proud of themselves, and to respect others.

Methods, Didactics and “Tools” Frequently Used Daily with Deaf People
-
Sign Language translation.
- Text adaptation.
- Visual elements: photos, paintings, drawings, materials to touch or to interact with…
- Direct experiences: “the didactics of learning from doing”, from the practical to the “theory”: internalizing the various concepts. For example, “intercultural competences”, “global citizenship”, “respect”, “openness”, “curiosity”…

- No passive participation, but active involvement.
- Collaboration: how the work of each one can make the success of all, how the exchange of ideas and opinions can create a significant experiential learning opportunity.

Visit the art museum!
Museums have been critiqued as places of privilege and prejudice, however, once accessible, they have the potential for connection and engagement on an individual and collaborative level through the artworks, history, collective memory and cultures. Mike Murawski of the Portland Art Museum (2017) wrote that “Museums have the potential to be relevant, socially-engaged spaces in our communities, acting as agents of positive change.” The idea is that museums have a greater opportunity to provide space for people to discuss issues, share ideas, and build positive relationships.

The aim of this method is to encourage participants to explore self-identity and culture, to value and appreciate difference, and respect different points of view. Two case study examples are included:

  1. La passione secondo Carol Rama [Passion according to Carol Rama]: an exhibition at the Modern Art Gallery (GAM) in Turin, Italy.

  2. “Around Ai Weiwei”: an exhibition at CAMERA (the centre for photography) in Turin, Italy.

The purpose and aim(s) of this exercise
1.       Increase cultural self-awareness and understanding of self-identity: understanding oneself is the starting point for developing comprehension and real acceptance of other cultures and points of view;
2.       Develop curiosity about difference, develop the desire to continually discover and learn in order to grow and feel enriched;
3.       Develop intrinsic motivation for self-improvement as a result of valuing difference rather than viewing it as a threat;
4.       Improve skills such as:
-      Observing the world around in depth. Patience for others to develop understanding of their identity and learn to interact with the other in their own time.
-      Viewing the world from others’ perspectives.
5.       Evaluate the impact of globalisation, both positive and negative aspects, and the role that the individual has in social transformation;
6.       Critical thinking: After viewing the exhibitions, provide the opportunity to reflect on themselves. The reflection can include analysing their emotions, thoughts, feelings, way of life, and relationships for example.
7.       Build familiarity with museums.

How and/or why this exercise helps in learning intercultural competence?
By exploring the history and context of an artist, a viewer may have a glimpse of the world through the artist’s perspective. Art exhibitions that can provide an intercultural learning opportunity could include subjects on global issues or trends such as poverty; discrimination; mental illness; international, national, or local conflicts, identity, etc.

Case Study 1: Carol Rama
Carol Rama was a self-taught painter, born in Turin, Italy in 1918 and died in 2015. She began painting as means of dealing with family tragedies: her mother struggled with mental illness and was admitted to psychiatric care, and her father went bankrupt and committed suicide.

In her paintings, she used different materials and mediums including parts of bicycles in the style of arte povera, using everyday materials. In her paintings, she expressed her pain and thoughts: her lifespan covered world wars and other big historical events of the 90s.

Why Carol Rama?
She was an unusual artist for her time. Her paintings were considered emotionally radical as they expressed the sad part of life and problems in society. She did not fear the extreme.

The way she painted and conducted her life, caused others to reflect on both themselves and their context and surroundings. She stimulated thoughts on other points of view, interacting with other people and respecting other ways of life that enrich rather than impoverish.

Case Study 2: Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei is a Chinese contemporary artist, designer and activist. Through his art, Ai Weiwei provoked and shocked people in order to encourage them to reflect on both local and international political and social situations. He fights for all types of freedom, especially the freedom of expression.

Why Ai Weiwei?
Ai Weiwei’s character is strong, despite the Chinese government trying to stop the spread of his ideas and criticisms. He stimulates reflection on globalisation, not only in intellectual circles but also in ordinary people’s everyday life.

Ai Weiwei communicates important concepts and ideas through art and demonstrates how people can communicate in many ways and through anything. Through photography he critiques and records human diversity from different points of view: cultural, social linguistic, moral, etc.

Suitable for the following themes
1. Cultural self-awareness and acceptance
2. Noticing and breaking stereotypes;
3. Respect for different thoughts and points of view

Number of participants
The participants in the case studies were:
20 young d/Deaf people between 18 and 35 years old.
- Heterogeneous group in terms of age, nationality, and abilities
- Some participants had associated disabilities (physical, cognitive)
- Majority of participants regularly attend vocational classes at the Turin Institute for the Deaf
Three participants attend the University of Turin and would like to work in the field of education and art.

Duration
Two sessions of 2-3 hours each.

Materials
Case Study 1: Carol Rama
Papers; scissors; wires; pens; bike air chamber; glue…

Cast Study 2: Ai Weiwei
Photos of the participants and of what they like, what is part of their identity; glue; papers; scissors…

Step by step description of the exercise

1.       Preparation
a.       Select an exhibition considering the most suitable themes in relation to intercultural learning and confirm the exhibition timetable is within the project’s scope.
As the Institute for the deaf often explores the theme of cultural accessibility, exhibitions from Turinese artist Carol Rama and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei were selected.
b.       Prepare and adapt text and the artist relating to intercultural learning theory.
c.       Consider ideas and actions for reflection on intercultural competences
d.       Collect materials for participants to create their own artwork in the style of the artist, set-up the learning space, and book visits to the museums.

2.       Introduce the themes of intercultural learning and competences to participants

3.       Facilitate 2 sessions on presentation of the topic and artists through written and visual slides and translation into Italian Sign Language.

4.       Visit the museums, translate into Italian Sign Language

5.       Facilitate discussion and reflection on the visits to the museums. Reflect on own feelings towards intercultural learning. Finally, produce own artwork/handiwork.

    1. Step 1: Self-identity collage. Create a personal collage about all the things that make up own identity (people, hobbies, ideas, values…). This activity is a personal reflection of oneself. For more detailed instructions on creating collages, read the methods introduced by the partner from Northern Ireland.

    2. Step 2: Group collage. After participants create a collage of what they like, what is part of their identity, have them share their collage with the group in order to find commonalities. Then make a web with string by connecting each of the commonalities together to create one big artwork.

Tips for the facilitator
Each person is different and works at a different pace. In their own time, they will discover meaning and gain understanding. Respect the time and space needed for each individual to progress; do not rush or insist on fast comprehension or participation.

Possible  reflection questions

  1. Which artwork had special meaning to you? What thoughts and feelings did it evoke in you? How does this artwork connect to the theme of intercultural learning?

  2. If you were bringing a depressed friend to the museum, which artwork would you share with them and why?

  3. Choose an artwork that you have a hard time understanding (i.e. a person you have difficulty sympathising with), and think about the barriers as to why this is.

  4. What new thing did you learn today?

 

 NETHERLANDS - Stichting Hogeschool Rotterdam
By Anja Stofberg

My Intercultural Hero

 The purpose and aim(s) of this exercise
·       Create awareness and insights of intercultural competences that participants already possess and competences they’d like to develop further.
·       Discover how writing can benefit clarity of vision and how solutions and understanding can emerge from that.
·       Enable participants to exchange reflections on their individual heroes and learn from each other.

How and/or why this exercise helps in learning intercultural competence?
Witnessing something or someone is the key that moves people along in their thinking. And writing enables clarity of vision and insight to emerge. This in turn can lead to further competence development.

Suitable for the following themes
1.                  Cultural self-awareness and acceptance
2.                  Understanding equality and freedom
3.                  Cultural knowledge
4.                  Building group spirit by sharing ideas and viewpoints.

Number of participants
Any

Duration
60 -  75 minutes

Materials
Blank papers and pens, plus sufficient worksheets of this assignment.

Step by step description of the exercise
Explain the 3-step assignment to the participants and have them (or ask them to) split up in diverse / multinational groups. In a nutshell: Step 1 is a writing exercise followed by Step 2: exchanging / talking about each other’s intercultural heroes, and finishing with Step 3: finding common ground in your group.

This is the assignment (also on hand-out):

Step 1: writing down
Reflect on the many people you met in your life and think of one person that inspired you, one person who has / had the profile of an interculturally effective person and that you admire.

Intercultural competence is defined here as the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with people of other cultures.

This person could be a teacher, someone who wrote a book that you like, or someone in a film or documentary, or a stranger that you saw possessing these intercultural competences (knowledge, skills and attitudes).

Describe this person:

  • Describe their facial expression.

  • What is their body language when they speak to others?

  • What kind of energy do they transmit?

  • Are they calm or energetic, charismatic, kind or eccentric?

  • What qualities do they possess?

  • What is it about this person that draws you?

  • How would you describe this person’s attitude to life?

  • If this person was here, what advice would they give you?

When you reflect on this person, what qualities found in them do you possess or would you like to possess?

Finished? Then try to complete the following sentences:

  • I realize that …

  • I never knew that …

  • What I need is ….

Step 2: exchange your intercultural heroes and your findings in your group

Tell each other in your group who your intercultural hero is and why you chose this person.

Make sure you exchange the qualities, skills and attitudes that each of these intercultural heroes possesses.

Step 3: find common ground

Ask yourselves in your group: what do all the intercultural heroes have in common? And in which ways do they differ?

Ask one group member to prepare for a short presentation (3 – 4 minutes) in the plenary session.

Tips for the facilitator

Ask a few people what they have learned from this assignment.

On the one hand from step 1: writing,

On the other hand from step 2: exchanging with others, and also step 3: finding common ground.

Depending on time and willingness, ask them: are you well on your way to becoming an interculturally competent person?

Reflecting in Groups: An Action-Oriented Method

Reflection is a way of thinking or writing that moves beyond simple descriptions and that is aimed at achieving better understanding and/or deeper thoughts.

Reflection can include some, several or all of the following elements: making sense of an experience, going over the incident several times, standing back to gain a clearer perspective, finding more clarity, in search of a better understanding, aiming for more honesty, considering the good and bad aspects and making judgements.

The purpose and aim(s) of this exercise
·       Getting acquainted with in-depth reflection and its value for an individual as well as for a group.
·       Creating opportunities for deeper and conscious learning through reflecting on critical incidents experienced, either from a group member or from personal experience.
·       Acknowledging how personal feelings influence a situation and involving others in the active exploration of the experience (after the event).
·       Encouraging individuals and groups to think systematically about the phases of an experience or activity after the event.

How and/or why this exercise helps in learning intercultural competence?

Gibbs’ (1988) reflective cycle is a good tool to reflect on ‘critical’ incidents, in other words those events that have had a profound negative or positive impact on you. These can be events that have occurred in (intercultural) learning, but also in practical or personal areas.

Reflecting on learning, and as part of efforts in learning intercultural competence, can help one take an objective view of progress and see what is going well and what needs working on.

Whatever form the reflection takes, it should initially involve examining feelings about an experience, then identifying areas to develop and starting to think about ways to do this.

Gibbs’ (1988) reflective cycle consists of six clearly defined stages which make reflection accessible and useful for people who are new to reflecting. See image below for the six stages.

Suitable for the following themes

Any of the following themes, where critical incidents took place.

  1. Cultural self-awareness and acceptance

  2. Understanding equality and freedom

  3. Noticing and breaking stereotypes and prejudices

  4. Cultural knowledge

  5. Building group spirit by sharing ideas and viewpoints. Opening up a dialogue can help people connect.

Number of participants
Any, with options to split up in pairs, groups of 3 or more.

Duration
60 – 75 minutes

Materials
1 handout per participants, see www.intercultproject.com for resources.

Three short (max. 4 mins) videos summing up why and how to reflect via Gibbs’ reflective cycle can be found here:
1.    by Colette Mazzola: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFZ1AlTMueg
2.    by Sam Webb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WfnHGq6ztg
3.    by the University of Northampton here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_acUWM3co8

For further reading and study on reflective learning, have a look at the OpenLearn free course Learning through reflective practice on www.open.edu/openlearn.

Step by step description of the exercise
Here’s a helpful image of the reflection cycle and together with a special hand-out outlining the specific questions per step a group can apply the reflective cycle: Gibb’s reflective model

CoP.gif

Source: Reflective model adapted from Gibbs, (1988)

Ask participants to divide themselves in multinational groups and have them think, individually, of recent “critical incidents” that they experienced.

Then have them share these experiences! Shortly! In such a way that the group can decide (in a joint decision) which critical incident they would like to explore further by following the reflection cycle as a group.

Steps 1 and 2 need to come from the participant who introduced the selected critical incident. In step 3 the group members can support the evaluation in case the evaluation tends to become too negative for example. In step 4 (analysis) especially, but also in step 5 (conclusion) the group members can be particularly helpful by contributing their views, experiences and perspectives and sharing any knowledge or theories that are eye-openers.

Even step 6 which may seem an individual step can be shared by asking all what they would do next time they experience such an incident.

Tips for the facilitator
The task of the trainer is to facilitate reflection and the learning process of the group. When rounding off in a bigger group, the following questions may work well: What did you learn? How did you learn it? Who helped you learn it? When did you learn it?

Other essentials
The message is: Don’t be too hard on yourself ! It is easy to be too conscious of the things that did not go well. The Evaluation stage makes one think about the positive as well as areas for improvement.

When following the cycle it is important to ensure that the participants stick to that specific stage; for example the description stage should only describe the event.

Source
Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods. Oxford: Oxford Further Education Unit.

 

Northern Ireland – Training for Women Network
By Sarah Stack

Using Collage to Convey Meaning
Collage (from the French word ‘coller’ meaning ‘to glue’ or ‘to stick’) is a technique of art in which the artwork is composed  from pasting different materials such as newsprint, fabric, coloured paper, pictures, images. It is an art method of ‘reassembling fragments of pre-existing images in such a way as to form a new image’ (Shields 2010).  It is considered to be an intermingling of high and low culture or informal and formal art. High culture or high art refers to the traditional definition of fine art whilst low art refers to art for mass production or advertisements.

Many artists find that magazines, newspaper clippings, photographs, printed words, and even fabrics are great mediums for conveying messages. Artists can ‘glue’ clues to the meaning behind their artwork in order to leave messages about global or social issues and trends allowing viewers to search for hidden messages and meaning.

In his book Reality Hunger (2010), David Shields defines collage as "the art of reassembling fragments of pre-existing images in such a way as to form a new image."

The purpose and aim(s) of this exercise

1.       Knowledge/cultural self-awareness: identify and explain social issues relating to own social groupings; understanding oneself is the first step towards developing curiosity about, openness to learning about and being able to view the world from others’ perspectives. Understanding ‘me and my cultural identity’.

2.       Knowledge/sociolinguistic awareness: develop understanding how images, symbols and words convey meaning; understand how to use collage to convey meaning.

3.       Knowledge/grasp of social issues and trends: explore both positive and negative aspects of social issues and trends; understand how art can be a tool for social justice by exploring the history and impact of collage.

4.       Attitudes/ emotional resilience: develop emotional resilience to new experiences by exploring individual differences within own social and cultural groupings.

5.       Skills/cultural self-expression: share the in-depth impact of social issues and prejudice affecting themselves with one another.

6.       Skills/critical thinking: analysing and interpreting own experiences and others’ experiences to seek out linkages, comparisons and causality; explore how prejudice affects oneself and others.

7.       Behaviour/collective learning: use the knowledge to explore ways individuals can initiate change; develop motivation for creating change by exploring how individuals can be influential.

How and/or why this exercise helps in learning intercultural competence?
Collage pieces convey meaning through images and words. Exploring collage allows participants to analyse and explore how symbols, images and words create meaning, an essential intercultural competence.

By focusing on social issues or trends, participants are able to explore both positive and negative aspects of their cultural identity.

Suitable for the following themes
Collage is a useful tool for exploring social trends and issues or cultural identity. As such it is suitable for addressing the following themes in cross-cultural or single identity groups:

  1. Cultural self-awareness and acceptance

  2. Understanding equality and freedom

  3. Noticing and breaking stereotypes and prejudices

  4. Cultural knowledge

  5. Building group spirit by sharing ideas and viewpoints. Opening up a dialogue can help people connect.

In particular, groups may explore the following questions:

  • Who am I as an individual? (What are my values, what makes me happy, what is my vision for the future, what communities do I belong to [such as age, gender, religion, socio-economic status, region]?)

  • Who is my community? (What are our traditions and customs, what words are specific to my community, what are the negative and positive aspects of my community, what stereotypes exist?)

  • Who is the ‘other’ community? (What have I learned, what stereotypes and myths have been dispelled (as a result of building friendships with people from another community)? What values are important to the ‘other’ community, what is common ground among our communities?)

  • What is a community issue that affects me?

Number of participants
Groups of 5-8 individuals is ideal to ensure that everyone has a chance to participate. Individual groups can be either homogenous in order to explore social issues specifically relating to their social or cultural grouping or cross-cultural to explore how a social issue affects communities differently.

Duration
2-3 hours per session, over at least 5 sessions. Offering more than 5 sessions allows time to create a more intricate artwork.

Materials
Poster board or canvas, together with a diversity of materials such as newsprint, magazines, coloured or patterned paper, pictures, fabric, images, glue etc.

Step by step description of the exercise

Step 1: Introduce the theme and conduct research

  • Introduce the selected theme to explore and facilitate discussion around the theme. After discussion, ask participants to select their top themes.

  • Organise participants into groups around their chosen topic for further research. Guide participants to research facts regarding their topic online and through interviews.

  • Encourage participants to collect images, articles, and other materials that symbolise or discuss concepts related to the topic. Images and text can be pulled from newspapers, magazines, photography, clothing, objects, etc.

Step 2: Introduce the art of collage

  • Introduce the art of collage. Include a presentation of examples. Highlight the use of words, colours, symbols and different materials. Explore the meaning behind some of the example collages. Have the group discuss which examples they like best and why.

Step 3: Choose a design for the participants’ collage.

  • Now have the group explore symbols, words, locations, ordinary items relating to their chosen topic. Facilitate a discussion on types of materials that could be relevant to their topic. Encourage participants to collect images, articles, and other materials that symbolise or discuss concepts related to the topic. Images and text can be pulled from newspapers, magazines, photography, clothing, objects, etc.

  • Have the participants discuss different imagery relating to their topic, and as a group decide an outline for their collage (or overall theme).

Step 4: Complete the collage

  • Begin pasting the materials to the collage. Start with the background colours and materials and gradually work towards the materials that should be the focal point and the top layer of the collage.  Keep working until all “white” space is covered.

Step 5: Share and reflect

  • Have the participants present their collages to one another. Ask the other groups to describe their feelings of the collage and what they think it means. Then have the participants share their story. Finally, ask the participants to reflect on what they have learned and exchanged.

Tips for the facilitator
Collages can be completed individually or as groups. However, group work leads toward collective learning.

As some topics may be sensitive or private, be sure to agree ground rules for confidentiality and respectful dialogue.

Sources
Wallach, L. (2012). A Cut Down History of Collage. Artspace LLC. https://www.artspace.com/magazine/art_101/art_market/art_101_collage-5622

Gersh-Nesic, B. (2017). How is Collage Used in Art? Visual Arts. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/art-history-definition-collage-183196

Community Murals
The term “mural” is derived from Latin “murus” meaning wall. While murals originated on walls, they can be on ceilings, floors or walls as murals connect the architecture of the building and the artwork together as a whole. The earliest form of muralism dates back to 30,000 BC to the Chauvet cave painting in France.

Murals are important as they bring art to the public and can be used as a communication tool, affecting the attitudes of the viewers. For example, some of the most famous political murals in the world are in Northern Ireland, in which murals depict various aspects and views of the Troubles as well as important events in Irish History. 

The purpose and aim(s) of this exercise
1.       Knowledge/cultural self-awareness: identify and explain social issues relating to own social groupings; understanding oneself is the first step towards developing curiosity about, openness to learning about and being able to view the world from others’ perspectives. Understanding ‘me and my cultural identity’.

2.       Knowledge/sociolinguistic awareness: develop understanding how images, symbols and words convey meaning; understand how to use collage to convey meaning.

3.       Knowledge/grasp of social issues and trends: explore both positive and negative aspects of social issues and trends; understand how art can be a tool for social justice by exploring the history and impact of collage.

4.       Attitudes/emotional resilience: develop emotional resilience to new experiences by exploring individual differences within own social and cultural groupings.

5.       Skills/cultural self-expression: share the in-depth impact of social issues and prejudice affecting themselves with one another.

6.       Skills/critical thinking: analysing and interpreting own experiences and others’ experiences to seek out linkages, comparisons and causality; explore how prejudice affects oneself and others.

7.       Behaviour/collective learning: use the knowledge to explore ways individuals can initiate change; develop motivation for creating change by exploring how individuals can be influential.

How and/or why this exercise helps in learning intercultural competence?
Community mural projects allow people to explore identity and self-expression, while they participate in a collaborative learning project that gives voice to a community. By focusing on social issues or trends or community identity, participants are able to explore both positive and negative aspects of their cultural identity.

Suitable for the following themes

Community murals can be adapted to suit any theme:

  1. Cultural self-awareness and acceptance

  2. Understanding equality and freedom

  3. Noticing and breaking stereotypes and prejudices

  4. Cultural knowledge

  5. Building group spirit by sharing ideas and viewpoints. Opening up a dialogue can help people connect.

 

In particular, groups may explore the following questions:

  • Who am I as an individual? (What are my values, what makes me happy, what is my vision for the future, what communities do I belong to [such as age, gender, religion, socio-economic status, region]?)

  • Who is my community? (What are our traditions and customs, what words are specific to my community, what are the negative and positive aspects of my community, what stereotypes exist?)

  • Who is the ‘other’ community? (What have I learned, what stereotypes and myths have dispelled as a result of building friendships with people from another community? What values are important to the ‘other’ community, what is common ground among our communities?)

  • What is a community issue that affects me?

Number of participants

Groups of 5-8 individuals is ideal to ensure that everyone has a chance to participate. Individual groups can be either homogenous in order to explore social issues specifically relating to their social or cultural grouping or cross-cultural to explore how a social issue affects communities differently.

Duration
2-3 hours per session, over at least 5 sessions. Offering more than 5 sessions allows time to create a more intricate artwork.

Materials

  • Paints in various colours, acrylic or oil paints can be used

  • Various types of brushes and sponges, both small and large

  • Tarpaulin to cover surfaces from being painted

  • Pencils or chalk to sketch the mural onto the surface

  • Turpentine for cleaning if oil paints are used

  • Cloths or rags to wash hands or wipe things

  • Sealer or primer (for previously painted walls) to give the surface a first coat

Step by step description of the exercise

Step 1: Start talking about it and choose a topic

  • Introduce the selected theme to explore and facilitate discussion around the theme. After discussion, ask participants to select their top themes.

  • Organise participants into groups around their chosen topic for further research. Guide participants to research facts regarding their topic online and through interviews.

Step 2: Introduce the art of community murals

  • Include a presentation of examples and the history behind murals. Explore the meaning behind some of the examples. Have the group discuss which examples they like best and why.

Step 3: Make and finalise the design.

  • Now have the group explore symbols, words, locations, ordinary items relating to their chosen topic. Encourage participants to collect images, articles, and other materials that symbolise or discuss concepts related to the topic in order to generate ideas for the design.

  • Have the participants discuss different imagery relating to their topic, and as a group decide a design for their mural.

Step 4: Select the wall and prep it.

  • Get permission from the building owner before beginning to paint.

  • Choose a wall that can be seen. If outdoors, consider the direction of the sun.

  • Check for cracks or peeling. Fix any problems with the wall. Then paint the wall with primer or sealer.

Step 5: Paint the mural.

  • Use either a grid or a projection of the design to sketch the outline of the mural onto the wall.

  • Number the different sections to ensure the correct colours are being used in each section.

  • Start with the background layers first and gradually add layers to give the mural depth. For example, when painting a tree, (1) first paint the sky and ground, (2) then the branches, flowers, and leaves behind the tree, (3) then the tree trunk, (4) then branches, leaves, and flowers in front of the tree.

  • Paint together! Assign different participants to different sections of the mural.

Step 6: Present the mural!

  • Work together to organise a celebration to launch the mural in the community. Be sure to invite community stakeholders (local shop or business employees, community members, local council officials, local school officials).

  • Remember to keep the mural area clean to avoid negative feedback.

  • Organise a dialogue to discuss the impact of the mural.

Tips for the facilitator
Community murals can be a powerful tool to build community spirit and pride. While artistic ability is not required to participate in painting, consider having a professional (community artist) help design the mural and place the finishing touches. 

Sources
The following resource is a helpful guide in planning a community mural:

Perez, A., Guzman, A., & Loughery, M. (n.d.) How to Create a Community Mural. ArtCorps Handbook – a guide to collaboration. Precita Eyes Mural Arts. http://creativeactioninstitute.org/assets/CCC-PDFS/Handouts/SupplementaryinstructionguideMurals.pdf

POLAND - Dom Kultury Kadr
By Iwona Miroslaw-Dolecka

Community Theatre
Community theatre is a theatre performance made by, with and/or for a particular community. The aim of community theatre is to integrate the participants as a group, explore local identities, compile stories, and nourish collective memories. The resulting theatre performance should be inspired by the stories, legends, memories, problems and events that are important to the community, which were discovered through preliminary meetings and conversations.

This description includes a case study of two workshops from a series of theatre workshops for prisoners detained in Warsaw Służewiec Investigative Detention Centre. In each of the workshop the prisoners created scenes that were fine-tuned and edited before inclusion in one overall final performance. It was based on the prisoners’ personal motives and histories and the film Oxygen [Кислород, 2009] by Russian director and writer Ivan Vyrypayev. The plot of Oxygen is told through music videos with variations in rap style in which the need for oxygen overcomes the drive for following the 10 commandments. 

In each of the workshops, the participants took part in creating and performing in the community theatre. Together with animators and facilitators, the participants wrote scripts and composed music, designed costumes and the set, performed live music, and animated objects and awakened dolls in the show. The resulting performance, called #weave and directed by Iwona Miroslaw-Dolecka, was an amalgamation of the scenes created from the various workshops. It depicted their life stories which included memories of freedom before incarceration, strings of events, unfulfilled dreams, and difficult, uncomfortable, infuriating, painful subjects.

The purpose and aim(s) of this exercise

Example 1: Improvisation with a prop: Where have I been, where am I going?
Building group spirit; integrating the participants and enabling acceptance of others; understanding others; noticing and breaking stereotypes.

Example 2: Improvisation workshop: Conductor - Leader
Increasing a sense of responsibility; Strengthening self-esteem; Noticing and breaking stereotypes; Participating in verbal expression

How and/or why this exercise helps in learning intercultural competence?
Participants are able to actively participate in viewing the world from others’ perspectives by observing others’ performances and then sharing their own, turning this into an opportunity for dialogic learning exchange. Additionally, participants explore significant events in their own lives, leading to better self-awareness and identity. Finally, participants are able to notice and break down stereotypes impacting on their lives and others.

Suitable for the following themes
1.                  Cultural self-awareness and acceptance
2.                  Understanding equality and freedom
3.                  Noticing and breaking stereotypes and prejudices
4.                  Cultural knowledge
5.                  Building group spirit by sharing ideas and viewpoints.

Number of participants
Works with a group of 14 participants

Duration
1.5 hrs for each example exercise

Materials
Example 1: Large bag for props with plastic legs of a woman inside, one per participant
Example 2: N/A

Step by step description of the exercise
For this case study, the stories were primarily collected by using drama methods allowing participants to play roles and create fictional situations —specifically improvisation. The participants were able to try out new actions and behaviours under the safety cover of a “mask” and the guidance of the facilitator to encourage them to act, to dare, gradually working towards opening up in order to tell their own stories, and express themselves. This method and way of working helped to create a safe space for participants to share through play and warm-ups and is designed to gradually lead to exploring the deep topics and issues affecting the prisoners.

With drama methods, it is important to draw from the diversity in the room, discuss and reflect after the activities, including observing others, so that participants may find inspiration amongst themselves.  

The workshop examples below informed the dramaturgy, and were the foundation for key scenes for the #weave theatre performance.

Example workshop 1: Improvisation with a prop: Where have I been, where am I going?

  1. Have participants create a story or tell a life event using the prop. Have them tell a symbolic story about who they were, what they were doing, what were they dreaming about and why are they here in prison. Encourage them to explore events, emotions, people encountered, mistakes made. Give the participants the option to tell about themselves or someone they want to be.

  2. The next step is to have animators “awaken” the prop, following the description of the individual stories.

  3. Then discuss each story. Explore stereotypes and prejudices shown. Analyse the behaviour in the stories. Discuss the history and the scenery. Do NOT rate one another.

Case study: This exercise built group spirit as the participants were confident to share in a theatrical setting. Stereotypes and divisions were broken: “I am lower”, “I am disabled”, “I am worse”. The participants watched and listened to others share what they were previously unable to. Themes included: family longing, loneliness, emotional repression, sense of meaninglessness, injustice, inaction. Through dialogue and reflection, the group became integrated.

Example workshop 2: Improvisation workshop: Conductor – Leader

Have the group leader nominate a “conductor”. Everyone else is now a singer-actor. The conductor stands in front of the group, and the others are arranged as if they are to perform at the “concert”.

  1. The conductor then nominates soloists, a corsair, and “voices” (bass, baritone, alto, soprano). This step breaks up divisions and creates new teams while supporting feelings of group belonging to the “theatre group”.

  2. The conductor is then tasked with creating a music piece by planning the order of speeches and statements of the band members. This includes solos and group performances. The conductor should encourage the band members to perform based on emotions or based on body language.

  3. Solos are easy as it is one voice, conducting groups is a bigger challenge as the groups must be vigilant to staying in tune and in time with the group, listening to their group members, and improvising in a way to make the “audience” believe the performance has been rehearsed.

  4. The conductor can end the song at any time, signalling the performers that it is the finale. Performers can also use spoken language or body language.

  5. After the performance, the facilitator should hold a debriefing and reflection to discuss the emotions and behaviour performed.

Case study: The prisoners created a piece that was full of shouting, grief, aggression and pain. This experience was cathartic to the prisoners as displaying emotions is not part of prison culture and atmosphere. One participant for example shared for the first time after 12 years that he hates aggressive behaviour, but the others are so strong he cannot fight them nor does he know how to fight; it is his biggest problem. The exercise created a team environment and built group spirit around prison divisions. Additionally, participants were able to articulate a problem under the role as the “singer”.

Tips for the facilitator
When working with prisoners, it helps to focus on building symbolic space and using symbolic props of concrete events, objects, and emotions in order to give more freedom to improvise, rather than acting within a set scenario.

Sources
Drama Way. (2016). Teatr ze Społecznością jako teatr zmiany. CZYTELNIA. Teatr Zaangazowany. http://www.teatrzaangazowany.pl/czytelnia/publikacje/teatr-ze-spolecznoscia-jako-teatr-zmiany-publikacja-drama-way-2016

Boal, A. (2014). Gry dla aktorów i nieaktorów. Wydawnictwo Cyklady. https://www.ceneo.pl/30488379

 

ROMANIA - Orizont Cultural T
By Rodica Miala & Roxana Timplaru

Intercultural Festivals: Together in Dancing and Living
Intercultural events, ceremonies and festivals can facilitate cultural interaction, learning and dialogue, enabling people from different backgrounds to express their views on wider cultural, social and political issues. Differences can include age, social environment, level of education, gender, nationality, ethnicity, religion and belief, etc. Through a series of cultural presentations in art, music, cinema, dance, and cuisine, participants can gain cultural knowledge of their own heritage and other cultural groups. Music and dance are an international language and can be a good tool to introduce people to one another and start social integration.

In the case study, participants explored the minority cultures of Greeks, Roma and Romanians from areas of socio-economic deprivation.

The purpose and aim(s) of this exercise

  1. Increase appreciation and sense of belonging towards own culture.

  2. Increase appreciation and feelings towards other cultures.

  3. Increase social interaction among people from different culture groups.

  4. Explore and breakdown stereotypes.

How and/or why this exercise helps in learning intercultural competence?
This method can be a great tool for learning historical customs, norms and behaviours as well as comparing and contrasting them to current customs, norms and behaviours. The key element in going from cultural to intercultural festivals is holding a dialogue following the series of cultural presentations to explore heritage and deeper meaning, as well as positives and negatives, of the various cultural activities.

Suitable for the following themes
1.                  Cultural self-awareness and acceptance
2.                  Noticing and breaking stereotypes and prejudices
3.                  Cultural knowledge
4.                  Building group spirit by sharing ideas and viewpoints.

Number of participants
12 participants ideally.

Duration
Depending on the number of cultural presentations, this method can be 1 hour or several hours. For integrating 2 groups, each group should present for at least 20 mins, followed by a 20 min debriefing session.

Materials
Films, music, clothing, and learning materials about the different music and dances. In the case study, materials covered Romanian, Greek, and Roma traditional customs.

Step by step description of the exercise
For this case study, participants explored dancing and music of the representative groups.

  1. Present a Greek, Roma, and Romanian traditional folk dance. Learners will listen and repeat, in order to learn the dance.

  2. Explore the symbolism and heritage of the various dances and music. Use DVDs, CDs and other learning materials.

  3. Hold a debriefing that reflects on positives and negatives of the cultural heritage.

  4. (Optional step) Prepare a festival to share with others and engage others in intercultural learning.

Step 4 is an optional extra step that is recommended as it builds cooperation skills and offers a collective learning opportunity that is a great way to round off this experience. 

Tips for the facilitator
The following are some example reflection questions to start the dialogue on positives and negatives of own and other cultures:

  1. What kinds of interactions have you had with this culture?

  2. What have you heard about this culture?

  3. What observations have you made about this culture?

  4. What messages do the media communicate about this culture?

  5. How does your culture and background influence your understanding of this culture?

Sometimes, debates polarise people into groups of those advocating changes and those wishing to preserve traditional culture. Therefore it is important to set ground rules to ensure dialogue remains respectful. The goal dialogue is to find common ground and develop understanding of others points of view, not debate.

Sources
Crespi-Vallbona, M., Richards, G. (2007). The meaning of cultural festivals: Stakeholder perspectives in Catalunya. International Journal of Cultural Policy (13)1, 103-122, DOI: 10.1080/10286630701201830. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10286630701201830?src=recsys&journalCode=gcul20

Campos, D., Delgado, R., Soto Huerta, M.E., (2011). (Reaching Out to Latino Families of English Language Learners. Chapter 1: A Critical Reflection: Exploring Self and Culture. ASCD. http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/110005/chapters/A-Critical-Reflection@-Exploring-Self-and-Culture.aspx

Engberg, J. (2018). What happens at an international cultural festival? (British Council, interviewer). https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/why-one-curator-wants-you-experience-international-festival https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/why-one-curator-wants-you-experience-international-festival