Ireland Against Racism
Main Page
About Us
About Travellers
About Refugees
e-mail us
Useful Links
Site Map
e-mail us

The National
Consultative Committee,
26 Harcourt Street,
Dublin 2.
Tel: (01) 4785777
Fax: (01) 4785778

National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism Printable version

Activity pack contents:

Ideas & Activities
Workshops & Role Plays
Resource Section
Schools Charter
Award Scheme
Lá Idirnáisiúnta i gCoinne Ciníochais

Activity pack for schools - Workshops and Role Plays


These are tried and trusted workshops and role-plays which are used by a wide variety of trainers and teachers. They aim to provide a means for participants to explore their own identities as well as those of others and to try and empathise with minority ethnic groups, including Irish Travellers and refugees and asylum seekers.

In section 4 of this activity pack there are a number of resource materials, including a glossary of terms and useful websites. These can be used as handouts or to provide further background for the facilitator.

There are five detailed workshops and role plays provided in this activity pack, including:

Top of the Page

We are all different - we are all equal

Objective - to help young people recognise and appreciate some ways in which they themselves are different from other people in their group, and to appreciate how others are different from them.

Age group - all

Materials - Each person taking part will need a potato and a recent photograph of themselves that they are proud of. The leader will need to provide sticky labels to write on.

Minimum time needed - 30 minutes

Part One -

Ask everyone to look closely at their potato, to become aware of all its lumps and bumps, its shape and its size.

Now put all the potatoes in a large bag mix them up and pour out onto the floor. Ask everyone to try and identify his or her own potato.

Discussion can follow the game on how each potato, even through very different in it own way, still remained a potato inside.

Part Two

Ask each participant to think about themselves. In what way are they proud to be different from everyone else in the group.

Encourage them to think about:

  1. Physical appearance, skills, talent, personality
  2. Ways in which their likes and dislikes differ from everyone else in the group

Invite them to write down two statements relating to (a) and (b) on a sticky badge.

Their statements can be read out and directly placed with their photograph on a display.


The participants can swap badges, mix them all up and then try to match the statements to the photograph on the wall (there may be clues in the photographs).

Part Three

Assign one smaller group to the task of using the badges to list all of the abilities, talents, attributes, experiences and skills that are present in the group.

The whole group then works on a giant poster or display to celebrate how differences enrich the whole group.


  • Invite everybody to name a way in which they admire differences expressed by other people present.
  • What way do they want others to regard their difference?
  • What attitude does the group want to have to other people's differences?
  • What do we pick on people who are different?
  • (Suggest fear, ignorance, etc.)

Top of the Page

The Umbrella Game

Objective - To develop ownership of one's own identity, and appreciation of difference within the group. To explore how subgroups develop in society.

Materials - Several umbrellas. If the use of real umbrellas is impractical, draw them on poster sheets. Post-its (large). Marker pens.

Age - 7+

Minimum time needed - 30 mins.


  • Divide the participants into about four groups. Give each group an umbrella, some Post-its and a marker
  • In the groups the members are asked to find as many things in common that are shared by every member of the small group. These are written on Post-its and stuck to the group umbrella
  • This will also reveal some things that are not held in common, and that the persons are proud of. Write these also on post-its and the person sticks them on their clothes. These are worn as badges of which the person is proud (not 'labels')


  • After some time bring the groups together and ask them to see if they can form one group. Of the things already named, which do they all have in common? The participants stick them to a single communal umbrella
  • Some individuals wearing badges may meet others with a similar badge and form a sub-group while continuing to be part of the full group

Discussion - learning to focus on experience:

  • Invite the participants to discuss the differences that they, as individuals, felt proud of
  • Explore the feelings of exclusion and inclusion the group experiences during the game
  • Discuss how the participants may have had to opt in or out to belong to a particular group; things they may have had to "give up" to belong or in order for others to belong
  • What were their attitudes to outsiders; were differences cherished and accepted?
  • Focus on the differences between self-adopted badges people are proud to wear, and labels people might not feel comfortable with, being imposed on them by others
  • Encourage the participants to consider their experiences in smaller umbrella subgroups
  • Encourage the group to think about how groups become excluded and marginalised in wider society.

Top of the Page

The Refugee Experience

Objectives -

  • To comprehend the reality faced by asylum seekers and refugees
  • To understand the difference between a 'refugee' and an 'asylum seeker'
  • To promote empathy towards asylum seekers and refugees
  • To understand some of the legal issues related to asylum
  • To introduce discussion about the legal, social, cultural and economic situation of asylum seekers and refugees

Materials -

  • Flip chart, sheets of papers, pens and markers
  • Stickers with different professions: doctor, electrician, etc.
  • Handout (see end of role play)
  • Imagination!

Age - 15+

Time - 30-60 minutes


  • Can be undertaken with up to 15 people
  • Give each person a profession on previously prepared sticker (see materials)
  • You can change the names of towns etc to make it more appropriate to where you live

The story line

One day, a group of extremists called 'The Extremist Party' conclude that they are not satisfied with the way the country is being run, so they decide to take over the country. They eventually succeed and become the leaders of the country. In order to prevent future opposition, The Extremist party begins to arrest and persecute members of the former leading political party 'The Welcome Party'

Ask the participants to imagine that they are all well-known active members of the leading political party 'The Welcome Party'.

  • A sympathetic member of the Welcome Party calls each of the active members and informs them that he/she will come to collect them with a truck in front of their house in 5 minutes. Unfortunately, they can only bring 7 items with them in a bag.
  • Ask the group to write their 7 items on a piece of paper.
  • Then, tell them that the truck is in front of their house and that they have to go now. Unfortunately, they have to leave out one item each, as the truck is overloaded.
  • They decide to go to Newcastle because Belfast is no longer safe.
  • Unfortunately The Extremist party's militias are approaching Newcastle.
  • The Welcome party members have to take a boat to leave the country, and also have to give one item each to the captain.
  • They sail for 3 weeks. All food and beverages have been consumed (these should be deleted from their items in their bag)
  • They arrive at Port Harcourt in Nigeria, but cannot stay because The Extremist Party has good diplomatic relations with Nigeria.
  • They take a plane and end up in Kinshasa, in Zaire.
  • You (the facilitator) now tell them that you are an immigration officer.
  • Invite the participants to stand up in line and justify to you why they are seeking asylum and what they have brought with them to prove that they are telling the truth.
  • Question them, sometimes speaking in a foreign language, accuse them of being just interested in seeking a better life or working illegally.
  • Deny entry to all in the line except one or two.


  • Invite participants to discuss their impressions about this experience.
  • Do not forget to de-role so that participants do not get stuck in their role.
  • Distribute the handouts.
  • Write the findings on the flipchart.
  • Bring it back to the situation in Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland:
    • How have their lives changed?
    • What difficulties will they face?
    • How is their host country supporting them?
    • What is missing from their previous life?
    • How are they learning the language?
    • Can they work and in what kind of job?
    • Are they having an easy time?
    • What have they left behind?
    • What are the administrative procedures?

Notes for the facilitator

  • It is always recommended to let the participants uncover the messages by themselves.
  • Seeking asylum has nothing to do with charity. One does not necessarily need to be poor to be a refugee. It is a basic human right to seek protection, when one's life is in danger or when one is being persecuted for the reasons stated in the 1951 Geneva Convention: race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Top of the Page

Media Watch

Objectives -

  • To examine the role of the media and racism.
  • To look at the dangers of labelling people, even when it is unintentional.
  • To consider the impact of inadequate media reporting.


The media has an important role to play in relation to racism. It can play a major part in highlighting racism as a problem in our society and report on how government and non-government organisations are seeking to tackle racism and promote a more inclusive society.

However the standard of reporting has sometimes been very inconsistent in relation to the issues of racism and cultural diversity in our society, a fact recognised by those involved in working in the media industry such as the National Union of Journalists which has been active in promoting good practice.

Look at the way media portrays one or all of the following:

  • Travellers
  • Black and minority ethnic groups
  • Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Materials - Ask participants to collect newspaper coverage about groups such as Travellers or refugees and asylum seekers from a range of different papers over a period of time. Note: Some public libraries keep press cuttings, sometimes referenced for easy access. For background information related see Racial Equality bulletin No. 2 - Press reporting on minority ethnic issues and racism in Northern Ireland published by the Equality Commission and in regard to the South, see contributions related to the media in Toward the World Conference on Racism Report on the publications indicated in the resource section (4) of this pack.

Age group - 15+

Time - 30 - 45 minutes

Method -

  • Divide people into small groups of 4 or five.
  • Appoint one person to report back to the main group or ask the group to select a person themselves. They will report back after 20 minutes.
  • Circulate photocopies of the news cuttings to each group that you have collected or which you have asked participants to have collected in advance.
  • Ask each group to decide what the story is about.
  • What kind of message is sent out by the headline of the article?
  • What kinds of messages are being sent out by the content of the article?
  • Is there emotive language in the article or headline?

Top of the Page


Objectives -

To provide participants with the opportunity to research and assess attitudes to Travellers in the community. To develop skills around survey techniques.

Age -

15 and upward

Preparation -

  • Clarify the questions to be asked in the survey
    Formulate a draft questionnaire
  • Test the questionnaire out on a sample group before you use it
  • Work with a small number of questions to make the collation of data easier

Who should be interviewed?

Decide on a specific target, eg fellow students; friends
Give some thought to how many people you want to interview

How do you want to ask questions?

Look at the pros and cons of using a questionnaire. Questionnaires are quick and relatively easily administered but the answers may not give the full picture. Other methods of asking questions are through structured interviews. This method requires significantly more skills and it is more difficult to analyse the results.

What do you intend to do with the information?

Participants should be prepared to put in some time into a piece of work like this, including background reading. The information derived from the completed questionnaires should be presented. A short report and description of the findings should be prepared, with a number of conclusions and recommendations. These should be informed by a discussion involving the teacher/youth worker and the participants. The results could be drawn together as part of a class newsletter.

Practical points

  • Who will prepare the questionnaire?
  • Who will conduct the questionnaire?
  • When will it be done?
  • What is the date for questionnaires to be returned?
  • Who will collate the information (compile the responses to the questions)?
  • Who will prepare the presentation of the information (consider using charts)?

Sample Questionnaire

Do you agree or disagree with the following statements



  1. Everyone should have the right to a decent standard of accommodation.
  2. Travellers should have a right to a permanent, serviced halting site in a convenient location.
  3. Everyone has the right to have some choice about where they should live.
  4. It would be better for all Travellers to live in houses and not on halting sites.
  5. Travellers are welcome in my community.
  6. Travellers experience discrimination.
  7. We have a lot to learn from Travellers.

Page 1 | Page 3 | Lá Idirnáisiúnta i gCoinne Ciníochais

Top of the Page

Main Page | About Us | News | Travellers | Refugees
Government | Links | Site Map | e-mail us