Where in the world do you
come from?
WaltHopkins,CastleCons ultants
To involve people in the discussion of cultural origins and background in a low risk, engag-
ing, and instructive way
This is a good opening exercise for a group starting a training program. It is useful for groups
ranging in size from six people up to the capacity of the room.
20 minutes or more, depending on the size of the group and the number of questions to which
you ask the group to respond
A large world map, preferably the Peters Projection World Map (see the Resources
Flipchart and markers
A large open area
Put the map on the floor in the middle of the room. Ask the group to stand around it. (If using
the Peters Map, give them some background about how it changes our perspective of the
world. The materials that come with the Peters Map can help you with this.)
Ask people to use the map as a guide and place themselves in the room at the place where
they were born. Invite them to observe where people are standing, introduce themselves,
make remarks, and ask one another questions about their background. You can also do the
exercise in several stages (ask them to move from where they were born to where they live
now, to where they would like to live, etc.).
1. Ask the group what they learned and observed by doing the exercise. Note significant
learnings on the flipchart and hang it in the room as a further conversation piece during
the rest of the program.
2. If you are using the Peters Map, point out at the last debriefing that if we used other com-
mon kinds of maps (Mercator Projection, etc.), people would have been standing in differ-
ent parts of the room. Maps often place our own culture in the center and others at the
3. Note this improvement over having people stand in the room based on where they were
born in the United States—where “foreigners” stand on the edges. (Americans in the
United States are actually on the western edge of the Peters Map, not the center.) Of
course, in other countries, a similar ethnocentric sense prevails.
The Peters Projection World Map was produced with the support of the United Nations
Development Program through Friendship Press in New York.

Get 50 Activities for Achieving Cultural Competence now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.