Practica: Beaux Gestes


Last weekend's SIETAR France workshop, Jouons ensemble ! Let's play together! was a delightful opportunity to learn about ourselves and each other, old-timers and new arrivals to France. We played games that helped us get acquainted with about each other's cultures and with each other.

I've given the nickname, Beaux Gestes to one of the most interesting and enjoyable exercises led by Grazia Ghellini, who is authoring and, earlier in the workshop day, demonstrated a diversophy® game for the acculturation of new arrivals with local residents. I'm certainly going to use her gesture game in the future, and I would highly recommend it to teachers and trainers as an effective way to bring differences to life at the nonverbal level for highly diverse groups who may be meeting for the first time. I imagine that It will work well for groups from a dozen to 30 or so people. Here's how it goes:

  1. Have the group stand and form a circle.
  2. Explain to them that one person will go to the middle of the circle and act out a gesture which is commonly used and understood in their own culture.
  3. As the facilitator, you can start the game by going to the center of the circle yourself and acting out the first gesture.
  4. Anyone in the surrounding circle may make a guess as to the meaning of that gesture.
  5. The person who first guesses the meaning correctly will take the place of the person at the center of the circle and in turn perform a gesture from their own culture.
  6. If no one in the circle is able to guess the meaning of the gesture correctly, the person in the center will explain it, and then retire to the circle taking the place of someone who was not yet performed.
  7. That person will go to the center and the process will continue in the same way.
  8. Expect that in the course of play, people will spontaneously respond to the gesture by sharing and demonstrating how the same meaning may be conveyed by a different gesture in their own culture. So the learning continues until all who wish have had a chance to participate.
  9. Debrief by getting participants' reactions to and learnings from the event. Also ask anyone who would like to share, if they felt that the impact of a gesture said something unpleasant our unexpected in their culture, or raised feelings that didn't fit what the gesture was meant to say.

Image: by Mithun 

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