This role-play deals with people living in the same building. The students get the chance to put themselves into the conflicting shoes of people from different cultures.Aims/objectives

  • to analyse our attitudes towards people from different cultural or social groups
  • to explore problem solving strategies
  • to reflect upon the limits of tolerance
  • to reflect upon the relationship between discrimination and conflicts of interest

Material needed

  • Role cards (see annex)
  • List of clues (see annex)


Prepare the role cards, event. adapt them according to the current situation in your class.

Step by step description

  1. Read out the story of the role-play: You are living in an apartment block. One of the apartments is rented to a group of foreign students who often have visitors from home and who also frequently organise parties. Some neighbours, especially those living in the apartments closest to the students, are annoyed and complain that the students and their friends make a lot of noise, don’t let them sleep and don’t take care of the building. The neighbours have called a meeting to try to solve this problem.
  2. Ask for 6 to 9 students who would like to play the roles of the neighbours. The rest of the participants will act as observers.
  3. Distribute the role cards to the neighbours and give the observers each a copy of the observers’ notes. Allow 5 minutes for everyone to think about what they will have to do. Remind the players that the goal is to come up with a solution to the problem.
  4. Start the role-play and allow the discussion to proceed for about 10 minutes and then, without interrupting, hand each of the players a copy of the clues for finding a solution. Let the role-play continue for a further 10 minutes. However, you may interrupt or prolong it according to your perception.

Reflection with the students / questions for debriefing

Ask the students to get together in a circle for the discussion, which should be divided into two parts:

The role-play:

  • What did the observers record and what were their impressions of what happened during the role-play?
  • How did the actors feel about it? Was it difficult to get into the role they were given? What did they find hardest and what easiest?
  • Did the participants perceive any difference between the first and the second stage i.e. after the actors had been given the clues for finding a solution?
  • What kinds of arguments were put forward and were they based on fact, reason or emotion? Was it easier to find arguments for or against the students?
  • Was the problem resolved and was everyone happy with the outcome?
  • Which alternative solutions could there have been?

The situation in real life:

  • Did the role-play reflect any reality in daily life? What were the similarities/differences? Did anything seem to be exaggerated?
  • Which of the characters most faithfully reflected attitudes common in our society?
  • When we face a conflict involving people from different cultural backgrounds, do we look for a solution that may satisfy everybody, or do we rather try to impose our point of view and neglect those who think or feel differently from ourselves?
  • To what extent is the conflict actually related to differences in culture rather than to other things such as personal or economic interests?
  • Has anyone ever experienced this kind of conflict? What were the circumstances?

Suggestions for adaptations and variations

  • If you have the impression that the clues for finding a solution are not necessary, leave them out.
  • In order to be able to reflect upon the relationship between discrimination and conflicts of interest the students might need more knowledge about these topics. So give them the necessary information ahead.
  • During the debriefing it might be helpful to distinguish between the attitudes we often adopt to foreigners or people who are different and the ways in which we deal with concrete, everyday problems involving interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Discuss with your students which practical steps they could take to improve the relations between different groups who live in the local community.

Reference / original source of the method

This activity is an adaption of the activity “In our block”, originally published in the Education Pack “all different – all equal”. Directorate of Youth and Sport. Council of Europe, 2nd edition, 2004.

Danijela Pop-Jovanov facilitated the method during her „Open Academy workshop“ with the same name at the aces Academy 2010 in Senec.

Annex 1 and annex 2 are adapted versions and were originally published in: “In our block” (Education Pack “all different – all equal”. Directorate of Youth and Sport. Council of Europe, 2nd edition, 2004).
Annex 1: Role Cards

Annex 2: Clues for finding a solution