I did a shortened version of the Speed Re-Entry exercise for a group of students who had been selected to be study abroad ambassadors as a sort of training to help them learn how to tell their ‘informal study abroad story.’ I prefaced the activity by stating things to avoid, such as unqualified statements such as “It was life-changing” and encouraged them to go deeper by explaining why. I also advised them to avoid talking up their partying escapades and the nightlife since this was a training session for them to promote study abroad programs after all 🙂
Then we conducted the exercise. My observations were that it got loud…quickly! It was only 10 students but we were in a small conference room. I also noticed that it was difficult to get them to stop when the time was up and they needed to switch partners. After 2 cycles I noted how repetitive the exercise was, but we then talked about what they were experiencing and I indicated how this was indicative of how real life will be–people asking you the same question and you having to relay your story again and again. I asked what the process was like and they pretty much unanimously agreed it was near impossible to capture their stories into a minute-long speech. We talked about perhaps focusing on one or two elements of their experiences which would then add variation to their stories and perhaps make it less repetitive. We then did about 2 more cycles and asked someone to share their ‘elevator speech’ at the end. The group seemed to really enjoy the exercise and I thought I could see them connecting the dots between realizing how difficult it is to capture their stories in a succinct form that they are able to share with people.
I think having a bigger space would have been better for me to facilitate this exercise as well as having just a bit more time to discuss and debrief. I was limited to about 15 minutes.
I plan on doing this for a much larger group next week!