This exercise encourages students to think creatively about their own origins. It reinforces that our own lives and experiences i.e. our own stories, are rich, interesting, unique and important.
Prep and resources
If you can, get hold of a copy of Roger Robinson’s poem ‘Mango Juice’, which begins with the line ‘Trinidad is…’
Icebreaker: Ten Questions Only YOU Can Answer
Ask students the following questions. (Stress that answers do not need to be shared with anyone and pages can be thrown away afterwards!)
- Which is your favourite takeaway or restaurant?
- Where is the best holiday or day out you’ve ever been on?
- Where is your safe space?
- If you were an animal, which animal would you be? And what state would you be in?
- What did you learn from your parents?
- What did your parents learn from you?
- In real life, who is the funniest person you know?
- When was the last time you laughed and why?
- What does love smell like?
- If you were on death row now what would your last meal be?
Exercise A: My Name Is
Ask students to write ‘My name is…..’ at the top of their pages, then complete the sentence with their own names.
Urge students to think about their own name as they look at it written down. This could be with eyes closed, or with students taking notes. Ask the following prompt questions:
‘Where does it come from? Do you have nicknames? Does your name mean something in a different language? Think about the sounds of your name. What do you associate with your name? What smells, what colours, what textures? If your name was an item of clothing, what would it be? If you could taste your name, what would it taste of?’
Then ask students to spend five minutes free writing about their own name. Ask them to end their pieces with the final line repeating ‘My name is…’.
Feedback: invite students to read their writing to the group and discuss.
Exercise B: Home Is
Going around the group, ask each student to respond in a single word to the question, ‘Where Do You Come From?’ Perhaps highlight any similarities or differences.
Next, ask students to write down their own answer to the question ‘Where Do You Come From?’ in five words. Share and discuss.
Finally, borrowing from Roger Robinson’s poem ‘Mango Juice’, which begins with the line ‘Trinidad is…’, invite students to extend their writing into a poem. Instruct them to start their piece with ‘[Trinidad] is…’ but substituting ‘Trinidad’ with the single word answer they earlier gave to the question ‘Where Do You Come From?’
In sharing and discussing students’ writing, reiterate the creative writing principle that our own lives and experiences — our own stories — are rich and interesting, unique and important.