Forcing Diversity

Anthony C. Ogden, IESTokyoCenter


  1. To help participants become aware of how diversity and multicultural issues can influence cultural adjustment.
  2. To encourage participants to consider their own identities within the context of the host culture.
  3. To provide a forum for students to discuss local attitudes toward diversity and multiculturalism. 

15-20 minutes for playing, 30-45 minutes for debriefing/discussion.
1. Very similar to the force-field activity, each participant will either stand on one side of the room when presented with two options.  The student must identify with one option and stand clearly on either the left or the right side of the room.   The activity begins with a few practice rounds. 

Model Question:    If you are/prefer _________, please stand on the left side of the room.   If you are/prefer _________, please stand on the right side.

Practice Rounds:

  • The City / The Countryside
  • Rice / Bread 
  • Sushi & Sashimi / Meat & Potatoes
  • Over age 20/ Younger than age 20

2. After each division, both groups are to mingle amongst themselves asking a given question.  These force-field topics and questions should be relevant to the host culture.  About three minutes should be given to each division and question.  Note: there are no questions for the practice rounds, only light fun. 

Some example force-field topics and questions are as follows:

 FF:  From a private school /  From a public school                          
Q:  Which school are you from?

FF:  Speak one language /  Speak more than one language       
Q:  Why did you choose to study Japanese?

FF:  Been to Japan before /  First time to Japan
Q:  Why did you choose to study in Japan? 

FF:  Want to party in Tokyo on the weekends /  Want to explore Japan on the weekends
Q:  What do you like to do during your free time?

FF:  Living with a host family/  Staying in the dormitory
Q:  Why did you choose this?

FF:  Can read Hiragana and Katakana/  Cannot read Hiragana and  Katakana
Q:  How many Kanji characters do you know? 

Note: This is a good time for the on-site staff to get to know the group.  For example, dividing the group by age can determine which students are below the legal drinking age.

 3. After a number of rounds, the facilitator will call the large group together again for discussion.   Hypothetical rounds are then discussed as a group in the context of diversity and multicultural awareness.  Each hypothetical round and discussion should be followed-up by providing resource material such as film and reading lists, contact information for local support groups, and volunteer organizations.  As much as possible, in-house resources should be pointed-out. 

FF:  Male/ Female
Q:  How will your gender influence your experience in Japan?

FF:  Religious/ Not religious
Q:  How are your beliefs viewed within Japanese culture?

FF:  Person of Color/ White
Q:  How will your race or ethnicity influence your experience in Japan? 

FF:  Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered/ Heterosexual
Q:  How will your sexual orientation influence your experience in Japan?

FF:  Poor/ Wealthy
Q:  How important is having money to your experience in Japan?

FF:  Disability/ No Disabilities
Q:  How will your abilities influence your experience in Japan?