Unicorns, Gorillas, Crocodiles and Mermaids!

It was a busy day! In spite of some jet lag, we all managed to wake up early to get started in our first day of orientation. My favorite activity was the first one we did, the “Unicorn on Your Head” game. Yes, we came all the way here to discuss unicorns!

(Dana telling a 4-minute story about the mermaid in our refrigerator)

As a group activity each team member was given a prompt and had to tell an improvised story on the topic non-stop for 4 minutes. I enjoyed listening to Christina’s improvised story about the unicorn on Chahinez’s head (in memory of the Mersin team’s unicorn mascot). I told a story about a mermaid in our fridge, which happens to be one of my favorite fictional characters. Chahinez told a story about how she loves the movie King Kong but is scared of gorillas. She managed to deal with the gorilla in our ceiling and created a love story for it. Christina is scared of crocodiles but Melissa also managed to deal with the crocodile in our bathroom and have it deported back to the United States to deliver molokheya (local vegetable).

(Christina telling a 4-minute story about the unicorn on Chahinez’s head. As part of the exercise, each team member had to speak about her prompt for 4 minutes without stopping)


We had some laughs about our improvised stories, which helped us get to know each other as a team and then reflected on how telling these stories prepared us for the upcoming trainings. Some things that we noticed were that we perceived our teammates as being confident even when they didn’t feel confident and that we stayed engaged in each of the stories and we were more critical of ourselves than of others. 


After discussing unicorns and mermaids we moved to two different activities. As part of the second activity Christina spoke to us in Italian and Chahinez spoke in Algerian Arabic. Most of us did not understand the languages spoken but we connected to the team member through body language, gestures and vocal intonations. I find our team interesting as we all come from different cultures and speak different languages but our passion towards autism is the common language and a strong tie amongst us.

(Chahinez sharing a story about her “best idea ever” in Algerian Arabic. Team members were instructed to walk toward her when they felt engaged and to stand still when they were bored.)

I am excited to think that each one of us will learn a new language and some amazing recipes from our team members. We are all living together and have the opportunity to learn constantly about each other’s cultures and experiences. They say too many cooks spoil the broth but not in our team. It’s been nice seeing each team member contribute in cooking our meals making unique recipes that involve all our cultures in one dish and we still did not spoil the broth (Yet!!)


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