The Paseo or Circles of Identity

Adapted from:

When a group would like to examine issues of identity, diversity, beliefs and values, and would like to begin making connections between who we are and how that shapes decisions and behaviors, the Paseo can be a tool for initiating the dialogue. It is essentially a two-step process, which begins with individual
reflection and then moves into personal storytelling. This is a flexible process, in that the theme of the questions and prompts can be tailored to meet the objectives of the group.


Part 1:
In an asynchronous discussion
Invite groups to make connections between who they are and how that shapes their beliefs, decisions and behaviors; ask that each participant follow these directions:

  1. Save the image provided that looks like a web of circles, roughly resembling the diagram of a molecule.
  2. Go to
  3. Upload your image.
  4. Use the text options to put your name in the center circle. And then add a word or phrase that captures some element of his or her identity that to each additional circle. This means those terms or descriptors that have most helped shape who the person is and how s/he interacts in the world.
  5. Download your image to your computer.
  6. Upload your imagee from your computer to the discussion by using the image icon.

Part 2:
In a webinar setting:
Be prepared to divide participants into pairs in breakout rooms.
Prior to sending the participants to breakout rooms, tell them that they will be asked to think about and respond to a series of questions.
Be prepared to set the timer per instructions.
Important instructions to provide before the questioning starts are:

  1. Once the question has been stated, everyone will be allowed one minute to think about his or her own response to the question. This is intended to ensure that each person is fully listening to his or her partner during the dialogue process, without being distracted by a desire to plan a response when his or her turn to speak begins.
  2. At the end of the one-minute thinking time, the timer will go off.
  3. Each person will take turns responding, without interruption, to the question or prompt, with two minutes allotted for each. If the speaker does not take two minutes, the full time should be allowed, being comfortable with the silence.
  4. The timer will go off at the two-minute point,
  5. The second partner gets a chance to speak for a full two minutes, without interruption.
  6. The timer will go off.
  7. Thank each other.
  8. The person with the first initial that comes first in the alphabet moves to the breakout below.
  9. The next round of dialogue will begin, with a new question, and with the one minute thinking time.
  10. The process will continue through each round of questions or prompts.

Part 3
Debrief the process. It is important not to shortchange this step. One way to begin the debrief is to ask the group to take a few minutes share in chat what they saw, heard and felt during this process. Set the timer for 3 minutes.
After the quick-write, do a round robin sharing (30 seconds or less) of what each participant observed.
Take 2 minutes for participants to voice with the mic reactions to what others have indicated in chat.
Possibly close the debrief with reflection time on one of the following prompts using chat:
• What will you do differently as a result of engaging in this dialogue?
• How might you adapt and use this activity?

Suggested questions or prompts for Part 2.
(Order of questions should be carefully considered. Since the prompts focus on personal experiences, the emotions initially tied to those experiences are likely to resurface. It’s generally a good idea to vary the depth of the questioning, and to never start with the deepest possible questions. In addition, you most likely may want to use 4 of the questions depending on the time available)

  • With which descriptors do you identify most strongly? Why is that?
  • •With which descriptors do others identify you most strongly? How do you feel about that?
  • •Describe a time when one of the elements of your identity definitely worked to your advantage, either in your educational experience or in other areas of your life.
  • Describe a time when one of the elements of your identity appeared to hold you back, either in your educational experience or in other areas of your life.
  • Talk about a time when your perceptions of a student’s identity caused you to do something that held her/him back.
  • Talk about a time when your perceptions of a student’s identity caused you to do something that moved her/him forward.
  • Talk about a time when you noticed an inequity, wished you had said or done something, but did not.
  • Talk about a time when you noticed an inequity and said or did something to address it.