The students imagine they are travelling in a couchette compartment with three people for four days. They choose three people with whom they would like to travel with the most and three with whom they would like to travel with the least.
- to explore the construction of images of people/groups and the construction of prejudice and stereotypes
- to understand the cultural aspect of diversity
- Distribute handouts including the list of passengers to the students (one for each student), see annex.
- The explanation of new vocabulary can be done as a pre-activity in the form of homework (or pre-teaching vocabulary) as some words might be unknown to the students.
Step by step description
- Explain the following situation to the students: You are boarding the train from Bucharest (Gara de Nord) to Oslo. Normally, the journey takes 45 hours, but since there are heavy works on the railroads, it will take almost four days to get to Oslo. You are travelling in a couchette compartment which you have to share with three other people. With whom of the following passengers would you prefer to share it?
- Distribute the handouts with the list of the passangers to the students, see annex.
- Students individually select three first choices of the people whom they would like to travel with the most and three they would like to travel with the least. They have 5 minutes to do this.
- After that, in groups of three persons, students share their choices of the three preferred companions and the three companions they would like to avoid travelling with. They discuss the reasons, which led to their decisions. They have 15 minutes for this part of the activity.
Reflection with the students / questions for debriefing
The students join another trio and discuss in their small group:
- How did you feel in the situation when you had to choose people to travel with?
- Why did you feel like that?
- While selecting people to travel with you, what images or stories did you create about the people from the list?
- Where did you get the “material” for those stories? What did you conclude from the descriptions, what from somewhere else?
- What is the students´conclusion regarding the stories and images they have created about the people from the list?
Stereotypes are generalized images about people who belong to a certain group, usually in the form “All people X are like that …”.
- Did the students use stereotypes in this exercise? To what extent?
- Where do these stereotypes come from?
- How can we go beyond our stereotypes when interacting with people who are different?
Suggestions for adaptations and variations
The list of passengers can be altered according to the region/country it is conducted and stereotypical presentations and prejudices people in that very country/region have of others.
Reference / original source of the method
This activity is an adaption of the activity “Euro-rail á la carte”, originally published in the Education Pack “all different - all equal”. Directorate of Youth and Sport. Council of Europe, 2nd edition, 2004.
Darko Markovic facilitated the method during the session "Diversity Revisited. Euro-rail a la carte" at the aces Kick-Off Meeting 2013 in Bucharest.
The annex is an adapted version and was originally published in: “Euro-rail á la carte” (Education Pack “all different - all equal”. Directorate of Youth and Sport. Council of Europe, 2nd edition, 2004).
Annex: List of passengers