The goal of this activity is to create a safe space for sharing and to help participants to get to know each other. This relatively low-threshold activity is about presenting oneself with the help of an object each participant picks. The activity also helps to introduce elements of active listening to others and of leaving space for each group member. Even though this is an opening activity for a personal introduction, it is also possible to use it in groups where participants know each other. Each participant has a chance to choose how they want to be called, which can change in the course of a workshop, as well as select pronouns they want others to use when talking about them.
Even when group members know each other, the object participants use to introduce themselves through brings a new dimension to it. For example, they can introduce themselves through one of their interests or personality components that others do not know about.
For this activity, the size of the group is not limited, but with consideration to group dynamics and attention span, it is possible to adjust the activity’s reflective closing part. For example, in groups over 10, participants can work in pairs or smaller groups when sharing why they chose the particular object.
The time needed for this activity depends on the size of the group. For groups up to 10 participants, approximately 25 minutes is needed so that everyone has a chance to describe why they introduce themselves through a certain object.
When preparing the activity, it is necessary to pick objects from various categories consciously and make sure they are varied. For instance, if I select only kitchen objects, the possibilities of introducing yourself will be strongly limited and suggest what participants should choose — which is undesirable.
The facilitator arranges various objects in the room (e.g. on a carpet) beforehand and covers them with a blanket so that participants cannot see them. Participants are asked to pick one that they would like to introduce themselves through. The chosen object should be related to their identity or characterize (a part of) them. Uncover the objects. After each participant picks their object and before the object-introduction part, it is possible to ask them to say how they want to be called and what their preferred pronouns are (he, she, they, etc.). You can include this step even if people in the group know each other but the facilitator comes from outside. Next, in case of a smaller number of participants, everyone presents what object they have chosen and why. For larger groups, you can alter the activity, so participants work in pairs or groups of three. The activity of introducing yourself through an object provides the physical anchorage and facilitates contact within the group while leaving everyone with their own choice of what to say about oneself. This way, no-one can break personal boundaries of anyone else.
“My name’s Jitka and I prefer to be called ‘she’ in Czech. I picked a kitchen whisk because I like baking. But when I say this, everyone starts to think I’m a provincial homemaker who only enjoys cooking in the kitchen and looking after others. But I just enjoy baking; it is very relaxing for me, and I like it — it’s not that I bake for someone; I do it just for myself because it brings me joy.”
Jitka’s introduction, 23 years
At the end of this activity, it is possible to ask questions such as:
What was it like for you to pick one object that you relate to?
Did you find an object in the selection that immediately caught your eye, or did you miss something to be there?
How did you feel during sharing of your thoughts?
Activity’s reflection gives room for subsequent sharing in the group and facilitates abstract thinking.