Cross Cultural Icebreaker Activities

Written by allison horky
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Cross Cultural Icebreaker Activities
Multicultural groups benefit from activities that encourage sharing personal experiences. (NA/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Icebreakers help members new to a group get to know each other. The icebreaker can be informational, fun and educational. Multicultural settings will have members with different identities, such as race, gender, ability, sexuality, class, religion and nationality. Facilitate icebreakers that give the group the opportunity to learn about each other and the experiences that vary from their background.

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Meaning of Your Name

Each person in the group explains the meaning of their name, whichever parts they feel comfortable speaking about. Encourage them to speak about stories from their parents and anecdotes passed down. Parents and families often name their children to represent or preserve a part of their culture. People use middle names to remember family members and words symbolising cultural and family values. In a setting comprised of people with a variety of cultural backgrounds, hearing about names is educational for everyone. This creates the opportunity for the group to ask questions about a person's childhood, background and cultural practices.

Human Bingo

Create a five by five square grid that looks like a bingo card. Fill the squares with different experiences a person might have in their lifetime. The statements will be in the first person. Participants will walk around the room asking people to sign squares that are true for them. Include items that reference specific cultures. For example, "I have an abuelo." This statement is asking the person if they come from a Spanish-speaking background and call their grandparent by abuelo. Another example is "I was born outside of the U.S." Each person can only sign another person's bingo card once.

Big Questions

Cut enough thin strips of paper for each member of the group to have one. Have each person write one question on the piece of paper they want to know from people in their group. The questions can range from funny to serious. For example, "What is a skill you are trying to improve in yourself?" or "Where did you get those cool shoes?" You ask your question to one person and listen to their respond. They do the same for you. Switch pieces of paper. Find another person you have not talked to. Continue to do this until you have talked to everyone in the group, always making sure to switch questions before talking to the next person.

Four Squares

Provide each person in the group a large piece of blank paper and coloured markers. Divide the paper into four equal sections. Provide the theme for each of the four sections. Pick themes that will help the group get to know each other better. For example, the sections could be "What is a value you live by?," "Who is important to you in your life?," "What is your favourite book?" or "What is a goal you have for yourself?" Encourage the members to tell stories that reveal who they really are and what they value in their lives. Lead by example and present your squares first, setting a safe and welcoming environment.

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