The trainer asks the participants to sit in a circle. When everyone is seated comfortably, the exercise procedures are set up as are the rules of the discussion. The trainer then reads the first question (see below) and gives his/her response in two minutes at the most. Then the next person responds to the question and it goes around the circle. Everyone has the right to “pass” on answering the question.
a) Base your answers on your own feelings and experience, not on theory or a
b) The question is answered going around the circle, not by putting your hand up.
c) The decision to pass on a question is fully respect
d) There is no discussion of answers – only listening.
e) Everything that is said is confidential.
Possible questions (in most cases three or four questions will be enough for one session, depending on the number of participants, the composition of the group, etc.):
- When did you first become aware that there were differences between the peoples living in the former Yugoslavia?
- What did you parents tell you to explain these issues?
- How did you feel when the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia broke up?
- When did you become aware that the war had started?
- Were you ever discriminated against because of your religious or national identity?
- Did you ever feel ashamed or guilty because of your national/religious identity?
Suggested questions to evaluate the exercise:
- How did you feel during the exercise?
- How difficult was it to just listen without being able to interrupt or respond?
- Did any statements anger or confuse you?
- How difficult was it for you to be honest in your responses? Why?
Alternative version of the exercise
This exercise can also be done in pairs (the participants are handed out a list of the questions and they answer them in pairs for about 10 minutes). Then new pairs are made up and they talk in their new pairs for the next 10 minutes. The participants can also propose a completely different list of questions for group dialogue.
The aim is to provide the participants with a safe space to share some of their feelings and experiences of living in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. It is very important to keep track of time during this exercise, making sure to give everyone enough space to express themselves, but avoid having the exercise go over time.
* Based on the “Telling it” exercise in Fitzduff. Community Conflict Skills, p. 20.