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Discover Culture or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and LOVE the Workshop”

On the first Saturday of every month, I host a program called Discover Culture. This is a workshop series that is free to the public and the activity changes each month. The idea behind the workshop is to have community members present a one hour, hands-on cultural workshop to the public, with the goal being that visitors learn something new.

By the end of this blog I hope that you will:

1. Be encouraged to fill out a form to facilitate a workshop and/or
2. Have marked your calendar for the next Discover Culture with plans to participate for the first time or bring a friend!

So let's tackle #1! What does it take to be a Discover Culture facilitator?

You should be comfortable working with people. Remember, the groups are small, usually 30 participants or less, and the thing to keep in mind is that they want to be there to learn from you!

You should be comfortable with what you are teaching. We have had so many fantastic facilitators, with experience in diverse activities. While you should be comfortable “teaching what you know,” you do not need to have a gold medal in your activity in order to put on a great workshop and share your expertise.

For Discover Culture, we are looking for activities with a cultural tie or a twist on an art. It can be an art, craft, dance, lecture or presentation. At this point, we are unequipped for making cultural foods (which is sad because I am sure we would have a lot of people come to a workshop on how to make traditional butter chicken). Here are some examples of activities presented in the past:

  • Chinese paper-cutting
  • Zumba (modern exercise twist on latin dancing)
  • Chinese painting
  • Henna tattooing
  • African drumming
  • Viking wire weaving
  • Polymer clay millefiori (modern twist on millefiori glasswork)
  • Amigurumi
  • Flamenco dancing
  • Hip Hop Yoga
  • Victory Rolls hairstyling
  • Pétanque
  • Introduction to Spanish
  • and many more!

Workshops can be offered in English or French, but if you wish to present an introduction to another language, that is encouraged too!

So, by now you may be thinking, “I like people and I have a fun activity that I have been dying to share with others!” Being a workshop facilitator is a great way to let people, who may not otherwise have the chance, try your activity. It also gives you the opportunity to let more people know about your cultural activity or group (and we provide an honorarium). In the past, we’ve even had facilitators present an activity connected to their small business, like Halifax Henna or The Goatworks African Drums. You also never know who may show up to your workshop; you might be able to make a few new connections!

So, what next? If you are interested in presenting a workshop, send me an email at learn@pier21.ca

Now to tackle #2! Participation. It almost seems to be a dirty word these days. With smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. information is at the tip of our fingertips and we tend to cocoon with our earbuds in, listening to our music and podcasts as we browse social media. I'm not judging, I know I certainly do it as well! Time to break out of your cocoon and become a social butterfly (and I stand behind this cliché 100%).

But, Lena, I'm scared of messing up, you might say. Well, that's when I ask you to think about who might be attending a one hour introductory workshop, people who are experts or people who want to learn something new? Chances are the other people in the room are just as worried about looking silly as you are. You never know, you might even make a few new friends! Speaking of friends, they may want to come with you so ask if any of them would like to join. I often have groups of friends or families who attend workshops together.

Where can one get more information on Discover Culture?

That's an easy question! Many places! You can find out about Discover Culture on our website, www.pier21.ca, and also by liking our Facebook page and following us on Twitter. You may even see info for Discover Culture in The Coast, or posters up at the Halifax Seaport Farmer's Market and many other places around town. You can also sign-up for our monthly e-newsletter, which often includes upcoming events.

So, now that I've cleared all this up, I hope to see you at the upcoming Discover Culture, whether you are a presenter or a participant!