Intercultural Understanding and Religion – Workshop with Kristof van Rossem

Presenting exercise
On 31-03 we had a workshop guided by Kristof van Rossem and our teacher Guro. We started the day with coffee at 9am. Half an hour later we started with a game about presenting yourself. We sat in a circle and there was one scarf present. It started with Kristof having the scarf and saying his name and something that he had done in the last couple of days. He then threw the scarf to someone else who had to ask him a question about his past activity. He answers and the other person says his/her name and something he/she has done in the past couple of days and throws the scarf to someone else. This continued until everyone had had the scarf. During the activity, Kristof added some criteria to the questions being asked. We were asking first order questions know, these were questions that for example contained ‘you’ (“What book did you read?”) or ‘people’ (“Why do people travel?”). Instead of those, we should know ask second order questions. These were more general and philosophically based, for example “At what amount do books become a library?” or “When does going somewhere become traveling?”

Guro’s dialogue
After this introduction exercise, we moved on to Guro’s dialogue. The main question here was “Can I understand another person?” We had to think of an example in where we understood someone else. Then the class got divided into groups of 4 and we shared our example in our group. The idea was to pick one example from your group to share in class and then two out of all the examples would be chosen to compare. Once we picked two, we wrote down differences and similarities of the stories. We now went back to our groups of 4 to think about the moment in those situations when they understood each other, our response to this was “They understood each other when they stopped thinking about only themselves.” Last thing that we did was give a personal answer to the question whether it is possible to understand someone. At the end, we came to the conclusion that we all had different thoughts about understanding someone. This varied from understanding someone in a certain situation to fully understand everything about a person.

After the lunch break, Kristof did an energizer with us. This is a very nice energizer to remember for in a primary school class. We all sat in circle. One person stands in the middle and there were no empty chairs. The person in the middle for example says “Everyone with blond hair, change chairs” When people get up to find another place to sit, the person in the middle has to try and sit down on an empty chair. The one left standing is next with a question or statement.
Also with this game, criteria was added in the process in the following order:
1) You have to be able to see it
2) An opinion, a hobby or your home situation
3) Someone steps out of the circle and gets a different role. When people have changed places, this person taps someone on his/her shoulder and he/she has to explain why he/she changed seats or didn’t change seats.

Kristof’s dialogue
The main question in this dialogue was “Can I understand myself?” At first, we all wrote down an answer to this question. Then, we all had to think of a moment that happened today in where we understood ourselves. We chose one of these examples and Kristof wrote the story of this person on the board for everyone to read. The person gave arguments why she understood herself. After doing so, everybody else wrote down on the board if they thought she truly understood herself, looking at the arguments given. We read them together and discussed them. We ended this dialogue with looking back at the answer we have to the main question at the beginning of this dialogue to see if we changed our opinion.

Meta dialogue
For the meta dialogue, we thought of an answer to the question “What is the relationship between two ways of understanding?” in groups of three. We went back to the class and discussed all of the answers given. We were also asked to think of a question we have about the facilitating style of Kristof or Guro.

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