Humane Icebreaker: Welcoming Circles

Yesterday 20 new participants in our Educating for a Better World Summer Institute came together for the first time (from places as close as Surry and as far away as Vanuatu) with hopes, excitement, and a little trepidation about the week to come. Mary Pat Champeau, Director of Education, led everyone in a great little icebreaker -- a welcoming circle -- to help establish a sense of connection, ease, and familiarity.

A Welcoming Circle asks everyone to gather together in a circle. The leader makes a statement, ("If you....") and those for whom the statement is true step forward into the circle, and the others say "Welcome!"

Some examples:
  • If you arrived here from New England (step into the circle)... Welcome!
  • If you arrived here from outside the United States (step into the circle)...Welcome!
  • If you have left children or animals at home...
  • If you have experienced something shocking....
  • If you have experience discrimination in your life....
The welcoming circle activity is a great tool for nurturing familiarity and connection in groups of people who are strangers to each other, as well as for diving deeper into important issues, sparking deeper thinking about judgments and assumptions, and promoting empathy.

~ Marsha

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