Explore culture, identity, language, and self-esteem through poetry.
- Pinnies, or other material, of the colours corresponding with the Culture Cards; enough per participant
How often do we really think about who we are? Our identity is influenced by our name, our family and friends, the language(s) we speak. Many of us have had the experience of going to Starbucks and have been asked to provide our name. The staff does this in order to give you the correct order but also to add a personal and friendly aspect to your Starbucks experience. However, when we receive our lattes, many of us are often shocked because the staff spelled our names wrong! Luckily, this might only happen a few times, but some people experience it everyday, even outside of Starbucks, because people are unfamiliar with the spelling or pronunciation or their name, usually because it originates from another language. To avoid this, those people may decide to take on a different name, or one that is similar to their own but sounds more English or French. While some people may not mind adopting a new name, others may find it upsetting and frustrating. This activity explores the importance of a person’s name to their identity and sense of self.
- Start off with a brief discussion about names with your group:
- Do you like your name?
- Is there a reason why you were given your name? (Does it mean something, are you named after somebody, was it a favourite name?)
- Do you have a nickname? Do family and friends call you by a particular version of your name?
- How do you feel if someone gets your name wrong?
- Have you ever adopted a different name or a different version of your name?
- If so, how did you feel when you used the different name?
- If not, how do you think you would feel if you had to use a different name?
- Obtain a volunteer to read aloud the poem “Vrantsis.”
- Spend a few moments discussing the meaning and purpose of the poem.
- If time allows, have a volunteer read, “Me,” and discuss in the same way.
- Divide the participants into small groups of 3-4.
- Ask each group to create a short skit (2-3 minutes) about a situation between several people where one person has to give his/her name and address to another (for example, to open a bank account, place a reservation, enrol in a course or camp, etc). The character in the skit who is noting the details cannot — or will not — understand. The name of the character who is giving the information is being misspelled, mispronounced, or commented upon. Encourage them to think about how people might be feeling and acting out their reactions.
- After creating and practising their skits, each group should be invited to perform it. The facilitator may wish to jot down some notes about the issues raised in the plays.
- Get creative and make modifications to suit your group.
- There are no foreseeable safety concerns for this activity.
Finish this workshop by inviting feedback on the skits and discussing some of the issues that were raised in the skits.
Adapted from: The Kit: A Manual by Youth to Combat Racism Through Education. eXchange by YouthREX. https://exchange.youthrex.com/toolkit/kit-manual-youth-combat-racism-through-education
Originally sourced from: Racism. No Way! (Australia) www.racismnoway.com.au Salimah Velji, 2001