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Developing a just society based on equity and equal opportunities for all with respect for diversity.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Breaking The Ice

From the assessment day to our In-country Orientation with International Service, ice breakers and energizers have played a major role in ensuring team participation, engagement and enthusiasm. Despite having travelled from our various countries and constituencies, tired and nervous about what to expect, icebreakers really helped in making us all welcome and feel like a family. My major fear prior to International Citizen Service was cultural division as we each come from different backgrounds and cultures. Prior to the engagement of Icebreakers many people felt shy and unconfident however Mr. Bismark Blankson, a programme officer, with his many energizers and ice breakers, made these feelings soon disappear.

At my first day at work with team RAINS, our committed team leaders, Portia and Sian, introduced us to a new game. A starter to welcome us, prepare our minds and warm us up. Let me set the scene:

"Make a circle, Portia began.  I'll go like this; concentration is the game, keep the rhythm if you can. You'll say it after me. Then I'll sing it again and mention my name twice and anyone's name twice as well. Whoever's name is mentioned, continues by mentioning his/her own name twice, and then any other person's name twice as well. When you make a mistake by not concentrating, you get kicked out of the game. It continues until we have a winner. And of course, the winner will be that person who can concentrate most.” It was competitive and enjoyable. But most importantly, it could be played without any cultural restrictions or differences; it didn’t matter that I was from Ghana or that James (my teammate) was from the UK. These are exercises where language is not a barrier, and have been so important in helping us build relationships and trust with one another. A trusted, bonding team is a successful team!

Trust leads to relationships. Relationships lead to partnerships. Partnerships lead to progress. So without the energisers, I feel that we wouldn’t be united or strong enough to engage successfully on projects.  Ice breakers provide relief when times get tough, and stimulate creative thinking. Most importantly, they have given me a window into UK social culture; I am slowly becoming an expert at ‘21’!

Unsurprisingly energisers have been useful to project planning as well. For example,  we took part in a game called ‘Misconception’ which really helped test and deepen our sexual health knowledge. This is an exercise in which each of us wrote down a common misconception about sexual health on a piece of paper, an example being that a girl cannot get pregnant the first time she has sex. Someone then had to pick one piece of paper out of the pile, and those who believe it was true moved to the left, whilst those who disagreed moved to the right. This energising activity not only helped us learn the differences between sexual health facts and fiction, but also gave us some cross-cultural insights into sexual health. I found that this was a much more attractive way of learning about this vital topic, rather than the text book method! Since the Safe Choices project is about increasing knowledge of sexual health within local communities, this was beneficial on so many levels!  I found this method fun, creative and a unique means of learning.

Given the success of the icebreakers in our group, we have decided to use them in our upcoming training, sesnsitisations and guided learning sessionss in the hope that they will help participants feel welcome. We are going to use ice breakers called walk/stop, love clap and the fasters which consist of different activities. Such energizers and icebreakers will be particularly useful on our refresher sessions as will consist of activities which we can link to the topic therefore enabling participants to refresh their memory on various issues. They will also create a friendly atmosphere and help us learn more about one another.


Saffie and James leading a game of 'Simon Says' before discussing development with students at Baga-Baga school (Tamale). Energisers lead to participation!

Now that you've realized how essential ice breakers and energizers are, can you think of any?

One of the important things I have learnt so far is the significance of building a trusting and united team. But secondly, this experience has taught me that despite our cultural and racial differences, we all one race, The Human race.

I am curiously excited to see what other lessons ICS will throw my way. I have so many goals I aim to reach; I know ICS will help me do so.

Author: Queeny Felicity Inkoom
Edited by: Saffie Touray/Sian Johnston