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Step 4: Designing your Dialogue sessions

The Dialogue team adapts the standard Dialogue sessions so that they are tailored to the specifics of the community and the Dialogue topic

What’s the aim?

To create customised Dialogue sessions which are tailored to the specifics of the community and the Dialogue topic.

What is this step about? 

At the heart of the Generation Dialogue are five weekly Dialogue sessions, lasting half a day each, in which 24 younger and older men and 24 younger and older women meet in single-sex groups. The Dialogue sessions are built around six interactive exercises. These allow participants to practice listening respectfully and giving constructive feedback, to discuss the core issues of the Dialogue through the lens of their own life experiences (‘life-path exercise’), to identify traditional values which they believe should be upheld as well as practices which should be modified or abandoned, and to consider what individuals and institutions in the community could do to bring about these changes.

This step is about customising the standard Dialogue sessions for the community in which you are working and the topic which the Dialogue seeks to address. Learnings and insights from the Community Consultations (Step 3) are applied to the core Dialogue exercises to create a Dialogue manual tailored to your specific Dialogue process.

What do you need to do?

To design and prepare the Dialogue sessions, coordinators and facilitators should jointly review and adapt each of the core exercises by going through the steps below. Doing this as a team is the best way to prepare facilitators to conduct the Dialogue sessions in the community:

  • Read through each exercise to understand how it works and the logic behind it. What is each exercise intended to achieve? How do the exercises build upon one another? How do they create trust, deepen reflection and build a commitment to action among the Dialogue participants?
  • Think about each exercise in relation to the topic of your Dialogue. What modifications are needed so that the exercise will work smoothly for the topic you are addressing? So that it will make sense in your particular cultural context? The details of certain role-play exercises may need to be adjusted, for example, and the items for the life-path exercise will need to be tailored to your setting.
  • Practice doing the exercise in the local language. Think through the terms you will use to convey key ideas and concepts. While practicing, listen carefully to the words and phrases you use, and give each other feedback. 
  • Note down any changes you wish to introduce. The Dialogue manual has been designed with extra space for notes next to each exercise. Keep track of the changes you want to introduce during your sessions. If you wish to update the Dialogue manual in electronic form, you can contact the Sector Programme and request the files as Word documents.

An alternative approach
If your Dialogue team is participating in an introductory workshop about the Generation Dialogue  in another country, the coordinators will start adapting the exercises during the workshop. Once back home, the facilitators can be brought into the adaptation process by doing each of the exercises, along with the coordinators, and then discussing with them whether it works or if it could be refined further. In this way, the resulting exercises will be the joint product of the whole team – and the whole team will be well-prepared to lead these exercises in the community.

What resources can you use?

Use the Dialogue session manual as the basis for designing your Dialogue sessions. The core exercises are explained step-by-step, with space for you to adapt and change them as needed.

These sample lists of traditional and modern objects for men and women can help you think through the materials you want to have one hand for the life-path exercises in your community.

How do you monitor this step?

Prepare a short report about this step of the Dialogue. The report should describe the process you followed to prepare your Dialogue sessions and summarise the types of changes you introduced.

How do you know you’re ready to proceed to the next step?

An adapted Dialogue manual has been prepared by Dialogue coordinators and facilitators. Facilitators grasp the logic behind each exercise and understand how they build upon one another to create trust, deepen reflection, and build a commitment to change among Dialogue participants. They have practiced conducting the core exercises in the local language. 

Do’s and Don’ts

  • DO have an experienced Dialogue expert look at the adapted exercises and get his or her feedback before conducting them in the community.
  • DON’T forget to practice the exercises in the language in which the sessions will be conducted.
  • DO have the facilitators practice the exercises in single-sex pairs and not only in mixed groups. This is because the first four Dialogue sessions are facilitated separately for men and for women.
© GIZ/Karsten van der Oord
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