To provide a simple process that helps participants become aware of their own cultural
To enable participants to get to know one another more deeply than in traditional ice-
breakers by having them reflect individually and interact with one another
To establish what members of the group have in common, and build a sense of teamwork
To help participants realize and appreciate what is unique about themselves and one
another as they start to work together
To clarify the expectations that group members might have about one another and about
the trainer
The activity is effective with new or ongoing groups and can be adapted for use in various
types of business, government, or classroom training. It is equally useful with homogenous or
diverse groups of 4 to 20 persons.
15 to 45 minutes, depending on your training objectives, level of explanation, and amount of
group interaction. Suggested flow:
Handout 1: “My Identity: Worksheet”—explanation, personal work, and discussion in
pairs (15 minutes)
Group discussion of commonalities and differences (15 minutes)
Clarification of individual and group expectations of one another and the trainer
(15 minutes)
One copy of “My Identity: Worksheet” for each participant
Using the “My Identity: Worksheet” (15 minutes)
1. Set up the exercise.
Introduce the key concepts:
“When we come into contact with others, we often ask ourselves, ‘Who are these
people? What do I expect of them? Who am I to them? Can I meet their expectations of
me?’ Most of these questions are rooted in how we see ourselves (our identity) and
how we see others (their identity).
“Each person’s identity is complex. You can see that your group leader is a man or
woman and probably a trainer (public). But you have no idea about this person’s mari-
tal status, exact age, salary, or other personal information. You wouldn’t even dare to
guess how he or she is feeling about leading this session, whether problems at home
are clouding his or her thinking, or whether this person is insecure or fearful.
“Sharing what we know about our own identities and what we would like others to
know helps those around us know us better and enables us to work together better. To
do this, we will use a short activity.”
(Hand out the “Identity” worksheet.)
Introduce the “My Identity: Worksheet” and explain each section:
Section A. My Identity: “Take a few minutes to think about the identities that are
most important to you. Let me give you an example.” Create your own example. The
author of the exercise has created this one: “If you were to ask my father about his
identity, he might say: (1) I’m a farmer, (2) I’m a Christian, (3) I’m the father of two
children, (4) I’m an American, (5) I’m a former sailor (served in the military), (6) I’m
from Kansas, (7) I vote Republican.”
“As you can see, this person’s list is a mix of public, private, and psychological
Review your own example with them to make sure they have the concept.
“Take 2 to 3 minutes to think about five identities that you believe are most important
to you. Write them on the sheet now. These might include your ethnicity or nationality,
geographic home, educational background, profession, career achievements, current
job, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or family role, religious beliefs, political
orientation, specialized skills, hobbies, family name or ancestry, and personality type.
There are many sources of identity. Think of five.”

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.