Rationale: When in a conflict situation, parties to the conflict can become convinced that their truth is the one and only truth. This exercise encourages participants to consider that one experience may lead to multiple interpretations. 

Missing file.
Students participate in the Paper Folding Activity during their visit at USIP


1. To understand the importance of viewing a situation from multiple perspectives.
2. To consider how understanding multiple perspectives relates to managing conflicts.

Materials: Paper

Time: 10 minutes


1. Tell students that they are going to do a brief exercise. Distribute one sheet of blank paper to each student. Ask them to stand somewhere in the room and to close their eyes during the exercise. Ask them not to pose any questions during the exercise. If they ask a question about what they should do, tell them to follow the steps as they understand them. 

2. Instruct the students to do the following steps: 

  • Fold the paper in half.
  • Fold the paper in half again.
  • Tear off the bottom right corner.
  • Turn the paper upside down.
  • Tear off the other bottom right corner. 

3. Ask students to open their eyes and hold the paper over their head so everyone can see it. 

4. Ask the students the discussion questions below: 

  • What do you notice? 
  • How did you feel when you saw what your paper looked like in comparison to everyone else’s papers? Did anyone think they had done the exercise incorrectly when they saw others’ papers? 
  • How could there be so many interpretations when I gave everyone the same instructions? Was there one right way to do this exercise? 
  • Let’s consider that the paper represents your opinion or perspective, what does the exercise tell you about perspectives? 
  • Why might it be useful to look at something in a different way or from a different perspective? What can we learn from looking at things differently? 

Learn more about USIP’s resources for students and educators.