Where Your Name Comes From

The simplest tool for cultural difference you'll ever use! It's almost too simple to be its own tool, but it works. The exercise: do a go-around where each person shares their full name and where it comes from.

Time: 15-45 minutes Group Size: 5-20 people

This is an easy, low-risk tool. Yet it can be powerful.

For a group of 10 to 15, it can be facilitated to take an hour, as people give full context to where their names come from, how people pick/give/get their names, and what the “hidden” meaning of their name is.

In a group from different countries or with wide cultural difference this inevitably opens up a whole field of difference. It can be a great way to break the ice, notice the diversity in the room, and allow people to realize the range of cultural differences.

Set the tone by either a) talking about your own name and its meaning (taking 5-10 minutes to tell your own story is a good way to model that folks should take their time and go deeply into the story); or b) using followup questions to get more information from the person (“So you were given your name by your aunt. Is that typical where you come from?” or “Does your name have meaning in your culture?” or “What’s the meaning of your last name?”)

You may also add a question: and how does that story connect to you being here?

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