“Controversial Train” is a 2 hours-long immersive experience which is literally held in a train.
This is supposed to be a mysterious, secret experience, and the only information the participants can get in advance is which station they should be at a certain time and the sense that they will be doing something “controversial” or related to “politics”. They will take a train ride with other participants, and they don’t even know where the destination is. In the train, they will be first asked to sit either on the “democrats” side or the “republican” side according to their political views. Then they will be asked to ask some of the questions from “36 questions to fall in love”(http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/how-to-fall-in-love-36-questions-and-deep-eye-contact) to the person in front of you who has the opposite political view and get to know about him/her. The participants would think this is just an ice break before the real debate about politics, but this question time lasts till they get to the destination. They will be encourage to understand the person in front of them as much as possible throughout the time in the train, and right before they get to the destination, they will finally be informed of the ultimate purpose of this experience; to exchange gifts with the person they just got to know. The destination of the train will be a shopping mall, and each participant will be given $30 to get something special for the person who were sitting in front of them just to make him/her happy.
When you send a gift to someone, you normally focus on the positive aspects of that person instead of the things you don’t agree with or you don’t understand in order to figure out how you can make his/her day. Even though their political views are completely different and there seems like a line between them, there are a lot of other aspects that you can share or have a mutual understanding, and gift-sending can help them realize this simple facts.