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The arrival of the participants, the welcoming and the getting to know each other serve as a basis for the seminar. If possible, it is very nice to pick up the participants from the station personally. Many of them might be for the first time in a foreign country.The personal welcoming therefore also has a meaning for the participants: We are happy that you are here!

For the first evening the focus is the getting to know each other and the presentation of the trainer team. Nevertheless, if the atmosphere is relaxed, expectations and first impressions can be written down on the flipchart and used at the end of the seminar Evaluation. Many participants will have had a tiring and long journey. Therefore a friendly and nice atmosphere will be the best start into the seminar.

  • One or two moderators are responsible for the program and the course of the seminar.
  • Something special to eat can make the evening exceptional.
  • The room should be big enough for games and presentations and at the same time small enough to create a cosy atmosphere.
  • Do not overload the evening with information and games.
  • Find a clear ending for the evening.
  • Offer possibilities for the ongoing evening.

Various Methods for the first Evening

Language

When choosing the games and exercises please keep for international seminars the level of language knowledge of the participants in mind. A mixture of verbal and non-verbal exercises is recommended.

Welcome Address

The welcoming takes place more than one time, for example at the arrival at the hotel. This should be in a relaxed atmosphere. A second official welcoming takes place at the beginning of the seminar. To have binding character and to create a sense of togetherness among the participants, there should be a clear beginning.

Seat Order

During the seminar, there is normally no special seat order. However, for the first evening, the facilitators should go for a mixture of the participants. By breaking up already existing groups in a loose atmosphere, the use of the seminar language is promoted. Possible methods for seat orders are the following:

Symbol Cards

This method uses coincidence in order to distribute the seats. Therefore, little cards with symbols and pictures have to be prepared. Every picture exists twice. The pictures can be drawn by hand or cut out of magazines and copied. It is also possible to use the cards of a memory game. One card is placed on the seat (or the place at the table) and the other one is taken by the participants when entering the room. The participants will then look for the corresponding picture and find their seats.

Postcards

Use postcards and cut them in as many different ways (e.g. vertical, diagonal, zigzag, in waves, ...)as you need groups later on. From each postcard one piece has to be put on the table/seat and the other one is given to the participants at the entrance of the room. The participants then search the corresponding part of their postcard and find their seats. If groups are needed later on, participants with a card that is cut in the same way can form a group.

Paper Flowers

For this method little flowers have to be made out of pieces of paper of different colours. Each participants gets at the entrance of the room a flower and has to search for the corresponding colour on the seats. For each participants there has to be one colour. If there are not enough colours, the flowers can also have a little symbol that helps to find the seat.

Name Cards

Seat reservations with the names are prepared and put on the seats. When distributing the cards the facilitators can create a specific seat order: e.g.: mixed regarding to the country of origin, hobbies, interests, studies etc.

Name Badges

Especially during the first days it is important to have name badges which are visible for everyone. It is impossible to remember all the names in a very short time and like this it is easy to address yourself directly at someone else. Name badges can be prepared in advance. When doing this it is important to check the spelling of names. There is also the option to leave it up to the participants to create their name badges. Therefore, the badges and pens of different colours have to be distributed. Everybody can then make his or her own name badge.

Games with Name Badges

Name badges can either be distributed directly at the beginning of the seminar or they can serve as seat reservation at the opening evening.

The following game is another option to bring the participants in contact with each other. When entering the room in which the evening takes place, everybody gets randomly a name badge, that has been prepared in advance. He or she now has to find the person to which this name badge belongs and give it to him or her. This methods allows participants to overcome their inhibitions and to talk to each other in the foreign language.


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