An Ice-Breaker  Teaches Participants About Themselves


When I teach memoir or creative writing, whether to college students or seniors, I often introduce an ice-breaker.

Sometimes I ask students to name a favorite film. Its purpose is about more than just getting participants to connect. I believe the things we love and the things that move us, can teach us about ourselves.

Shawshank Redemption is a favorite film of mine. The  1994 movie stars Tim Robbins (Andy DuFresne) and Morgan Freeman (Red) and it’s about hope, integrity and the strength of the human spirit.

It didn’t win an Oscar. But it’s unforgettable. There are so many lessons in this movie situated in a 1947 Maine prison.

One of my favorite scenes takes place when Andy, a convicted murderer and banker, who is sentenced to two, consecutive life terms, finds an LP of  Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.

Andy locks a prison guard in the bathroom and broadcasts the opera over the prison’s P.A. system.

Everyone across the prison yard comes to a standstill to listen. And for a few precious seconds, Andy settles back in a chair and allows the music to transport him as far from the prison as possible. Until the warden and prison guards arrive.

Although Andy was incarcerated, he was still free in his  mind and soul. Confronted with beauty, he made the decision to appreciate it. I hope I will also, always choose beauty as a sanctuary.



Copyright © 2015 – 2020

Words by HB