(Edition: Travel as a metaphor of life, workshop 3/4)

Main objectives:

Understanding the power of diversity and developing intercultural competences

During the workshop participants will:




Paper/cardboard, glue, tape, scissors, ruler, pencils, poster/flipchart, markers

For this workshop you would also need two separate spaces from which participants, divided into two groups, don’t see each other (the second space, beside the main room, can be another room, a corridor or a suitable corner outside).


1. Warm up (15 min)

Invite participants to share the story of their name: who gave them the name? Do they know its meaning? Do they like it? Do they remember any interesting story connected to their name? Start to set an example and ask the person to your left to continue. For some participants speaking in the group in English may still be a challenge, help and encourage them if needed. At the end, introduce the topic of today’s workshop: diversity. We all have different names and also different features, beliefs, needs, cultural background, etc. Cultural diversity can be seen already in this exercise, especially if you have in the group somebody coming from a different country. In many cultures names have special meanings and they can vary a lot from most common names used in our country.

2. Speaking, listening and writing: flower (20 min)

Divide people into small groups of 4-6 people. Give each group a poster and invite them to draw a daisy-like flower – one petal per each member of the group. Ask each person to write his or her name in one petal. The task of the group is to write things all people in the small group have in common in the middle of the flower and things which are unique to only one person in his or her personal petal. You can see an example of the flower in Appendix 1. Give the groups at least 10-15 minutes to fulfill this task, so they can go beyond obvious features like color of the eyes or hair and step into deeper topics, connected to skills, experiences, dreams, hobbies, beliefs, etc.

After 10-15 minutes ask the groups to present their flowers. One person from the group can read the middle part with things they have in common and then each member of the group can read his or her own uniqueness. Appreciate the diversity of people.

3. Speaking: Derdians (50 min)

Divide participants into two groups: around ⅓ of the group receive the “Engineers” instruction (Appendix 3) and the rest the “Derdians” instruction (Appendix 2). Before starting, make sure that none of the participants played the Derdian game before, and if so, invite him or her to take the role of Derdian (or observer). If there are more than 20 people you can also add the additional role of observers and them to pen down what they notice during the game. You can divide the group randomly, letting people pick up one of the instructions (but hand them upside down, so people don’t start to read till you tell them to do so) or deciding yourself, if you know your participants enough. Before people start to read instructions, ask them to quickly read only the title and if the title says “Derdians” – they should stay in the room, if the title says “Engineers” – they should go out to another room or corridor. Only when they are in separate spaces, invite participants to read all the instructions carefully.

Before the workshop read carefully instructions for Derdians and for Engineers to understand well what this exercise is about. In a nutshell, this is a game about cultural differences. The task of Engineers is to teach Derdians how to build a bridge (symbolized by a paper bridge). They have 15 minutes first to discuss and design the bridge – they should have all the materials already available (make sure to prepare them beforehand and give them to engineers while they read the instructions). The bridge can be built between two chairs standing 1 meter away from each other – prepare the chairs both in the Engineers’room and in Derdia, the distance should be always the same. While Engineers design the bridge, Derdians should learn by heart and practise their habits and behaviours, so they remember it and don’t have to come back to the instruction when the proper game starts. Ask them to hide the instructions once the Engineers come to the room, so none of the Engineers can read it. As a trainer, go between groups to make sure they understand the instructions and encourage them to fulfill their task of designing the bridge or practising Derdian habits. Of course Engineers don’t know anything about Derdia and it should stay so till they “arrive” to the country (which is the room where the Derdians are).

After 15 minutes, invite the Engineers to Derdia and inform everybody they have 25 minutes to learn and build the bridge. It has to be Derdians to build the bridge from scratch, Engineers can only instruct them. From that point on don’t intervene in the game anymore, observe what is going on, make notes to share feedback with the group later. After 25 minutes (or before, if they finish building the bridge earlier) gather the group to discuss the experience.

Auxiliary questions:

Derdia is of course just a metaphor. What can Derdia be in real life? Pay attention that it is not only about people from different countries, but even in the same country we have many groups which can have difficulties in communicating and understanding each other, because of age, different interests, place of living, etc. 

This exercise can be quite emotional for some people, so before you go to the next part make sure participants went out of their roles of Derdians and Engineers. You can ask them to “take off” the role as it was a costume to symbolically leave the roles behind.

From our experience people usually take a lot from this exercise and they also have some good fun. In Covid time you may have to modify some of Derdians behavior related to touch – they can for example touch each other with a pen, instead of doing it with hands.

4. Speaking and writing: diversity (20 min)

Divide participants into small groups of 2-4 people. Invite them to discuss and write down two points (can be in form of a table):

  1. What are the benefits of diversity? How as a group or community can we benefit from having diverse members with different backgrounds and experiences?
  2. What can be challenging about diversity? How can we answer and smooth those challenges or prevent them from happening?

After a few minutes of discussion, summarize it together, collecting all the answers in one board. You can ask each group to mention one benefit and one challenge and then go to the next group and ask for the next benefit and next challenge without repeating what others have already said. Keep going till all the answers are presented.

5. Summarizing (15 min)

Invite participants to the final round. You can ask them to take a place in the room, depending on their satisfaction from the workshop – the closer to the middle, the more satisfied they are. Ask each participant to express their opinion about the workshop and explain why they choose this particular place. At the end, invite participants to fill the evaluation form.

After the workshop you can share with participants the additional materials (Appendix 4).

Do you want to prepare and conduct a sayBabel workshop on your own on this or other topics? Do you need to know more about how to do that? You can find all sayBabel rules on sayBabel or just contact us.