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Guided Fantasy: A Personal Experience with Feeling Different

Mentors

 

Materials:

N/A

Time

15 minutes

Objective:

This activity is a guided fantasy in which a facilitator verbally guides participants, in a comfortable and relaxed environment, to personalize discrimination issues. 

Facilitator Script:

“While we cannot fully appreciate what it is like to walk around in someone else’s shoes, I want to personalize the issues of discrimination so that you can partially experience that.  In order for this activity to be successful, it will require a suspension of your current reality- try to feel the experience on an emotional level and not to intellectualize the issues.

Select a difference in an area which you would like to gain greater understanding- either gender differences, sexual orientation, race, or physical disability…

(dim lights and go through the following script very slowly, with pauses between each instruction)

  • Please relax, get physically comfortable
  • Close your eyes and keep them closed throughout the exercise
  • Take a deep breath, then exhale very slowly
  • Feel your whole body relax, release any tension you may be feeling
  • Picture yourself asleep in your own bed…You are yourself
  • Throughout the night you are transformed
  • You change gender…or race…or your sexual orientation…or physical disability status
  • Slowly wake up…but keep your eyes closed
  • You get out of bed and look in the mirror…what do you see?
  • What does your face look like, your features, skin, hair, eyes?
  • What does your body look like?
  • Go through your morning ritual…
  • Is your grooming, cleaning, shaving, etc, any different?
  • What clothes do you select to wear?
  • If you live with others, who are they and what do they look like, how is your relationship with them?  How is your morning routine with them different?
  • What do you have for breakfast?
  • Does your home look any different?
  • Are you comfortable in your own home?  In your neighborhood?
  • Leave your home for class…is your method of transportation any different?
  • You’re out on the street walking to class…how do people look at you? What do they see?
  • How do women of the same race react? …men of the same race….women of another race…men of another race?
  • You arrive at your class …How do your fellow students react to you…what do you see…how do you respond…who greets you…who doesn’t greet you…who do you sit next to in class…who sits next to you
  • How does your professor react to you…does he or she call on you…what assumptions is he or she making about you?
  • What assumptions are you making about other people… are they different than they were yesterday?
  • Think about the rest of your day…are you given a different set of assignments or responsibilities?
  • Does anyone invite you to have lunch with him or her?  Do you invite anyone? Who is it, what do you talk about at lunch…or do you eat alone?
  • Think about the rest of your day…pick several situations, such as shopping, working out, going to meetings, talking with friends, going to a bar, coffee shop, or party after work, meeting a group of people or an individual for the first time
  • Everywhere you go, how do people react to you?
  • What assumptions are they making about you?  What assumptions are you making?
  • Form clear, vivid pictures of your transformed self in a variety of situations…what are you doing…how do people react to you…how do you respond…what contact do you initiate with other people and with whom…what do you feel?
  • It’s the end of the day…you’re going to bed
  • Think about how the day has been…what have you experienced?   What have you felt?
  • You are finally falling asleep
  • As you sleep, you’re transformed back to the gender, skin color, sexual orientation or physical disability status you had a day ago
  • Slowly wake up and open your eyes”
Debriefing:

It is important to stress to students that this can be a very powerful, personal experience and sharing is optional but that insights from individuals can provide learning for all.  Encourage participants to with the group who they became, their reactions to that change, the reactions of others to them, the situations in which they found themselves and any feelings they have about the experience. 

  1. What was your overwhelming personal concern with the change?
  2. When did you feel the loneliest?
  3. What was it about you that you wanted other people to understand?
  4. What was the most positive aspect of the change?
  5. What did you base your experience upon…stereotypes, friends’ experiences, hunches?

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