A Step Forward
Materials: Cards with descriptions of roles Exercise description Prepare as many cards with roles as there are participants. Randomly hand out the cards to the participants. They are not to tell anyone which role they were assigned. They are asked to try to identify with the role they were assigned as best as they can, to think about the way of life and daily responsibilities and problems the person faces. TThen they line up next to each other (as if on a starting line). The trainer reads a list of situations and events, one after the other. Whenever a participant can agree with the statement, they make a step forward. At the end, when all the statements have been read out, ask the participants to look around at where everyone is in the room. Then they are to tell everyone what role they were assigned while still standing in the spot where they ended up at the end of the exercise. The participants then go back to plenary to evaluate the exercise. Examples of
- You are an unemployed single mother.
- You are the daughter of the local bank director.
- You are a Muslim girl living with very religious parents.
- You are a middle-aged Serb woman living in Prishtina.
- You are a young man bound to a wheelchair.
- You are a 17-year-old Roma girl who never completed primary school.
- You are an HIV-positive woman.
- You are the president of an association of families of victims.
- You are the president of an influential NGO in a small town.
- You are a disabled war veteran living on social assistance.
- You are the president of the youth wing of a ruling political party.
- You are an illegal immigrant.
- You are the daughter of the American ambassador in the country where you currently live.
- You are a female student from a small town living in the student dorm.
- You are an old-age pensioner.
- You are a 22-year-old gay man.
- You are a female show host on the most watched TV station.
- You are homeless.
- You are a Macedonian woman who has lived in a reception centre for 14 years.
- You are a 55-year-old worker who lost his job.
- You do not have any serious financial difficulties.
- You have a decent home with a phone line and a TV set.
- You feel that your language, religion and culture are respected in your society.
- You feel that your opinion on social and political issues is important and that your views are heard out.
- Other people consult with you about various issues. You are not afraid of being stopped by the police.
- You know who to go to for advice and help should you need it.
- You have never felt discriminated against because of your origin.
- You have adequate social and health protection for your needs. You can afford a vacation once a year.
- You can invite friends to your home for dinner.
- You have an interesting life and a positive outlook about your future. You can go to university and freely choose your future profession.
- You do not fear that you will be harassed or attacked in the street or in the media. You can vote in national or local elections.
- You can celebrate major religious holidays with your family and friends. You can attend an international seminar abroad.
- You can afford to go to the cinema or the theatre at least once a week. You do not fear for the future of your children.
- You can buy new clothes at least once every three months. You can fall in love with whomever you choose.
- You feel that your abilities are appreciated and respected in the society in which you live. You have your own car.
Suggested questions to evaluate the exercise:
What was it like? How difficult was it to identify with the role you were assigned? Any parallels with everyday life?
This exercise provides a very good starting point for thinking about social inequalities, differences in opportunities and the effects this can have on the lives of people belonging to a minority and/ or vulnerable group. (You should take care that the role cards have a predominance of vulnerable and unprivileged groups.) It aptly illustrates the terms of structural and cultural violence and allows participants to “walk in someone else’s shoes”. It is useful for illuminating unequal starting positions for different people in society and how difficult it is to overcome an unfavourable starting position.