Being civically engagedConsciously provides space for dialogue and interaction taking into account learners' valuesEnables learners to use their values and beliefs to feed the exchanges in the groupSkill to use the diversity of opinions and beliefs as a source of learningSupporting learners in developing critical thinking

What and Why

This is a simple but powerful exercise that a trainer can use to reflect on his/her own priorities in life, but also to enable a meaningful discussion among learners and create space for dialogue that will make participants feel closer to each other. The exercise shows how equal all individuals are, no matter the obvious differences. It creates space for marginalized or vulnerable groups to feel included and like part of the community of learners.


1. Introduction

Take 5 pieces of paper. If done in a group, each of the participants should have 5 pieces of paper. On a separate piece of paper, you need to write your name, hobby, role in the family, religion, and professional occupation.

  1. Name

it can be your full name, only your first name, or what people call you. The bottom line is on this piece of paper you need to write the name you feel the closest to.

2. Hobby

what you like to do in your free time, what relaxes you, what gives you gratification and pleasure and what you want to do and practice.

3. Professional occupation

here you need to write about your career-related role. If you are still a student, it’s okay, you can write “law student” for example. If you feel you are an entrepreneur or innovator, this can be your professional occupation. This is related to your career and occupation that brings you income.

4. Religion

this is more related to what you believe in. If you are atheist that’s fine, but think of something that you believe in. It can be the universe, energy, or the cosmos. If you were born Christian or Muslim and you hold your religion since birth dear, that is what you should write on this piece of paper.

5. Role in the family

you can have more roles in the family, for example, son or a daughter, sister or brother, cousin, mother or father. Here, on this piece of paper, write the role that is most important to you at this moment.

2. What and why

When you have all of your 5 pieces of paper ready it’s time to start the exercise. The exercise is called WHAT (you throw) and WHY (explain why that one). Think about what your priorities are. The exercise starts by throwing the one that’s least important to you at this moment on the ground. It can be your hobby or occupation – it doesn’t matter – but you should “let go” of one of the pieces of paper. And think about why this is the least important one for you.

When the least important one is down on the ground, you continue by throwing the next piece of paper that is least important to you and you explain why again. You still have 3 in your hand, and these are the most important to you.

The exercise goes on until all the pieces of paper are on the ground. Holding the last one in your hand symbolizes the most important thing to you in life. Reflect on that.

Copy-space friends on couch with chat bubble Free Photo

3. Reflection

How was this exercise for you? In the beginning, it might sound simple, but it gets harder when you need to “let go” of important things. It is because all 5 are important. Coming down to three, two, and then one that is most important to you is a process that requires thinking about the priorities in your life. This prioritization is closely linked to your personal values and what is truly important to you. By doing this you have actually reflected on and demonstrated your top 3 values and the most important value to you. Explaining why is the key and it will make you understand more about yourself. If done in a group, you will achieve a deeper understanding of the participants. It will create a sense of togetherness, because you will feel that many of the participants have similar choices, and even if they are different, this will bring them closer to each other.

4. Civic engagement and inclusion perspective

This tool is a powerful way to empower vulnerable and marginalized young people to feel a sense of belonging in society. It is so because it reveals the similarity between different people’s choices, and it connects young people on a deeper level by understanding what is truly important to them.

For example, if done with refugees on a multi-cultural youth exchange project, the refugees might choose “role in the family” as their most important piece of paper (value) and this will be the case of many Europeans. When explaining “why” they will become aware that the reasons are more or less similar. This brings a feeling of togetherness and mutual understanding, and ultimately a sense of belonging for each participant.

Even the diversity of opinions and beliefs can also be useful and a source of learning for the other participants about their values and beliefs and it can steer a meaningful reflection and discussion.

As a trainer, you must master this skill to consciously provide space for dialogue and interaction taking into account learners’ values and beliefs. In the moderation process in inclusion groups, you should be sensitive about their values and beliefs and you should “use” their answers and sharing to create a sense of belonging and togetherness in the group.

Why did I choose this tool?

This tool seems very simple and easy, but it gets harder when you get to the “letting go” of the things that matter to you. This tool can be a good start of a process of meaningful reflection and it can be used as a good set up for the “personal values assessment”.

Suggested Reflection Questions

What is the name that I feel closest to? Does my name represent my identity? Or is it just a name for me that can be changed and I will not mind? Does my personal identity relate to something else apart from my name? What are those things that are related to my identity?


  • You can do this exercise alone for yourself, but it is better to do it in a group. Maybe the most optimal number of a group for this exercise is three or four. Make sure you set nice and relaxing atmosphere so people would reflect deeply and share openly. 
  • Be careful of the semantics. Some people choose their “name” as the most important, ask them to share how they perceive their “name”. Their answer is usually, that this is my identity, it is who I am etc. Other might don’t see their “name” as very important, ask them as well to explain how they perceive their name. It is important to stress on the possible different understandings of one term, and that is always important to understand the meaning behind the words, because failing to do so, can lead to conflicts and misunderstanding.

Other Ways to Practice

In a group, and very powerful for teams to get a deeper understanding of their values and beliefs

It might be linked to the Personal Values Assessment tool because this exercise works great if it’s done prior the PVA tool.

Short Bio of Author of Tool:

This tool comes from the curator’s experience from youth work. No specific author can be found on this exercise. The power of this tool has been learned through the many years of youth work the curator has.

Antonio Jovanovski

Antonio Jovanovski has extensive experience of training and facilitating diverse groups all over Europe. His training and facilitating experience started during his AIESEC years ( where he served as President of AIESEC in N. Macedonia and France. Currently, he is a director of a youth environmental NGO ( where he works on the topics of climate change, youth eco-activism, greening of economy, greening of education and jobs. He is also a member of the Pool of trainers of Youth@Work partnership on employability and entrepreneurship (

Click here to read more about Antonio Jovanovski

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