A happy ending


By the morning our work was done, ready to be printed and presented. We were all happy about the results but we still had a major task ahead: our pitch. The process to describe was long and articulated, as these past four days of intensive work. We all agreed that the best way to deliver a good pitch would be by being clear, concise and… rehearse as much as possible! I felt a lot of pressure because of the guests that were going to be present and, in my heart, because I wanted to do everything I could to give a positive contribution to our presentation.

All together we organized the speech and then we started rehearsing. We had to present in both languages, we therefore decided to alternate between English and Chinese every few sentences. The instinct for all of us was to start presenting in English and then translate into Chinese. It only crossed our minds afterwards how maybe it should have been the other way around… English is not my mother tongue, so I see it as language through which I can communicate when I am abroad, a language that in my culture is widely recognized as everybody’s second language.

Watching all the presentations was just amazing and inspiring. It was great to see how each group developed a very unique project and delivered it with great passion. Thinking about how I felt on DAY 1, it’s unbelievable to see how everything changed so fast. From “unfamiliar” and “confused” to “comfortable” and “at ease”. From “a stranger” to “a friend”. In our differences we found common grounds, and on those we were able to go beyond any cultural diversity to contribute to an amazing project from which I learnt a lot.

Betty, Xanadu, Micheal, Ulissys, Daniel it was amazing working with you. Thank you for everything you have taught me.
DUT, thank you for allowing this great cultural exchange, it has truly changed my life.
Dalian, thank you for having me. It has been an amazing adventure!


Stick or Twist (BW5 – Diversity)

Teamwork is affected by diversity because people are naturally different in the way they think and act.The best teamwork is when the whole team thinks as one unit all pushing towards the same goal.

I think the greatest diversity when presenting today was deciding on the order of when people should speak.

The Chinese students felt that the English speakers should go first and then the Chinese would follow. Their reasoning? They felt that the people we were presenting to would quickly become bored if they were waiting for the English to be said after the Chinese. Ok a fair point.

I personally felt that since this was a Chinese project in China that the Chinese should go first. There was also then no danger of it looking like the Chinese were just translating for us. In the interest of group cohesion I relented as I felt. I do not know the Chinese way of thinking as well as the Chinese do.

All the groups seemed to folow this standard which thankfully meant we didn’t stand out in a bad way.

A comment was made however in feedback and we managed to deflect this by saying our hosts were being very polite.

Doodged a bullet there.

Diversity is good in a group because it gives you options.

Sometimes though, you just have to stick to our guns.



Diversity & Representation


Today was a very intense and productive day. We spent most of out time continuing to develop our proposal and representing it through various media. Our ideas were quite clear and we felt confident with the tasks to complete, but after the requirements for Friday’s presentation were announced, we realized that it was going to be a long night of work non the less.

Photos, some representation of the empathy interviews, sketches, technical drawings, a model, a logo, a value proposition diagram… It all needed to be finalized and time was running fast. Our Chinese team mates worked amazingly well on time-management and as soon as “what to do” and “how to do it” was clear, Micheal assigned a few tasks to each of us. We all buckled down with our individual jobs to complete but with our great group goal in our minds and we went on working almost all night long.



I started by working on the “value proposition diagram”. It was quite clear how organized and efficient the group was by dividing up tasks, but I still wanted to keep al my group members involved with what I was doing, so every once in a while I would show them my progress. Once the first task was completed I went on to work on the branding: I had to come up with a logo and a claim. I was quite happy about it because it is something that I enjoy doing – but still, I wanted to make them part of the final outcome of that tasks so I kept on sketching my ideas and asking for feedback and advice. I think the whole process was very productive, as we all kept adding information to my original sketches, these became a very intricate representation with multicolored lines and notes all over. I can see how these made no sense to a stranger but to me, after all that talking and exchanging ideas, those “scribbles” had all the information I needed to carry out the task in the direction that the whole group chose.

Even thought the work kept us busy most of the night and I felt exhausted by the morning, I have to say it was amazing to be part of such a productive and creative moment. I remember how I would take a break once in while and walk around the room to refresh my ideas, but at the same time peak at other people’s projects. I was amazed by the work that was slowly taking form on every group’s  table. Sketches, drawings, models… all so different but all so effective in communicating. Like different languages that involve different senses, they were all getting a message across.


Diversity, the old old wooden ship? (BX4 – Diversity)

In any language communication is affected by diversity, mostly because of the different words people use for the same thing such as football and soccer, rugby and football.

Accross languages every word is different and are therefore useless. Communication resorts to common factors that both people know. 

Noises, motions, acting and mimicking all come to the fore as they are universal communication tools.

As I write I’m listening to music so I cannot hear anything in the room. Observing those that are conversing I notice many more gestures than ever before. 

The room is alive with information that is usually smothered by spoken words.

Either that or people use less words at 1am.

Watch attached movie the way they used to be (silent). Can you see the information?

Untill next time.

Stay classy Dalian.


Ideation, Diversity and Dumplings





“The classroom glowed like a sweet shop. Sugar Paper. Coloured shapes.”

In Mrs Tilscher’s Class, Carol Ann Duffy

With exhaustion starting to set in, it was every man for himself in the campus coffee room on Wednesday morning; nothing like a double shot of espresso to warm the fingers in the cold, academic hallways of the Arts and Architecture faculty.

The room was ablaze with coloured post-it notes from the previous few days and it was great to have a space of our own, it made the process of ideation so much more fluid and satisfying.

We spent most of the day developing our concepts; compiling all of our empathy research and knowledge of the site, to create value propositions for our stakeholders.

The language and cultural barriers that were present during some of the looser design thinking exercises were bridged when we all worked on our value map; it was great to have all 6 of us working on the one piece of paper together. Our Ecopark was taking shape!

Another productive day at DUT was followed by a lecture from Jo (& team) about U.lab and its ecosystem. It was a great learning experience even for me and gave me a much deeper sense of what I was a part of. The lecture really brought home the diversity of our cultures but also the structure of education systems around the world and how U.lab is part of something really new and exciting.

A welcome early mark, gave us an opportunity to join groups and dine around one giant red table, with the biggest Lazy Susan I have ever seen. The meal was a stretch for some of us Aussies with lung and blood pate rotating around the table. If the food was a possible source of division, the antics that followed weren’t. Job decided that we should all indulge in some spontaneous singing and that got everyone laughing and joining in together. Ashily’s haunting Mongolian folk song, about the grass plains and wild horses, will stay with me forever. 


Hump day

Day 3 – Diversity – Representation – BY3

At this stage of the project, the factors of diversity probably had the most influence on representation in the design and ideation process. It was the middle of the week, and we were starting to feel a little tired as a result of having class over a 13 hour period for the past two days. Needless to say, we needed to engage with some of the more fun stuff to get us back on board.. Ideating and Designing!!!

Our group had conducted some empathy interviews in regards to the project, and had identified some key stakeholders in the project. We then had the task of developing a new idea/concept for our proposal on Friday. We spent most of the day working on designing the proposal for Friday. This was a refreshing exercise for us as it allowed us to be creative and share our thoughts with each other.

The factors of diversity that were most prominent in affecting representation were disciplinary skills and natural talents.

In order to represent our concept in not only an informative way, but also an interesting one, the members of our group were able to use their background in architecture and design as well as their natural drawing abilities to produce a drawing of it.

In another aspect of representation, we were required to present our idea/concept for the proposal in the form of a TV commercial (acted out). Here, I used my cultural background (in heavy TV viewing), to aid our representation of our concept. Using a rhyming jingle (cultural background) we acted out our concept in a way that could simply convey our core concept on a basic level.

At the end of the day we had an evening lecture by our fearless leader Joanne, where we were all given the opportunnity to present different elements of U.lab to other DUT students not involved in the workshop. After that, we were given an early mark, then headed out for a night of dinner and drinks!…. at 4am wen I crawled into bed, I wondered how the next day would be. I told myself that I’d have an early night on Thursday.

Day 1 – Intense


For the past 20 years, every morning of every day, as soon as I wake up I always start my day by instinctively pulling the curtains and opening the windows. I sometimes thought about why I do so, at first I thought it was because I needed fresh air to turn my brain on, but lately I realized what I really look for is a piece of sky. I truly need to know how the sky is doing to assess how I feel. I guess this is why I’ve been so happy since I moved to Sydney. Nothing beats a clear blue sky.

This morning when I “went for the window” I had a moment in which I felt lost, and then I remembered: you are in China! I could not see past 200 meters, and all I saw was gray. I did not understand if it was fog – or mist – or smog … I just felt cold and unfamiliar. Somehow uncomfortable but respectful and curious. I just knew this was going to be an intense day and I wasn’t wrong.

I rushed to class felling freezing and as soon as I got there I started to warm up. So many nice faces smiling at me, asking me many questions to which I wanted to answer. Their kindness stroke me immediately, as I started to fell less lost and more curious. As we were divided into groups my team members introduced themselves with their English names and as I talked to them about the project, their individual research, their expectations and goals, I found myself trying to remember their real names, the ones I could not pronounce properly. I felt frustrated – how can I not remember?

After a very interesting lecture by Professor Hu Wenhui on the urban design history of Dalian, Xanadu, Betty, Ulissys and Micheal (our team members) took Daniel and I out for lunch! What a delight! My first hotpot ever – so exciting! I had no idea of what we had ordered as I could not read a word on the menu, I did not know what to expect but as I watched the waitress display all the food on the table I was amazed by the smells, the colors, the textures – so beautiful and intriguing!


And then came the afternoon … our visit to the site.

During the drive there I was thinking about what to expect, I tried to picture it in my mind … but when we finally got there I understood that this was nothing I had ever seen before, this was nothing I had ever immagined. For a moment I thought I was about to experience the Apocalypse. All that devastated land and all those piles of rubbish left me speechless and furious. How could this happen? How is this OK? How can people live here? How can they accept this?

And at this moment my emotions went crazy. I felt sorry and lucky. I felt sad, I felt upset, I felt responsible, I felt appalled. I felt I needed to do something.

Still on the site I spoke to my new Chinese team mates and I asked them how they felt. They felt somewhat like me, just more positive. They clearly understand the magnitude of the issue and they know that with this project they have a chance to change things. They can actually do something about it. Back in class, we sat at a table to talk abut our first impressions and ideas. Communicating my feelings and at the same time wanting to be respectful was very important. We all agreed on one point: the mine we saw today is a huge scar for our planet, the people of Dalian and the Government. We need to change this.


Our diversities came out through the ideation process. Our culture, our personal background, our formal disciplinary training, are all elements that played a key role in the way in which we came up with ideas. What was obvious to me, wasn’t to them – and vice versa. This allowed us to open our minds and observe the situation from different perspectives. When this happened a deeper and greater understanding of the issue developed and all the different ideas we generated were able to feed into one another and resulted in a great initial concept.

I was very pleased with the quality of the interaction we were able to achieve today and I am very curious to see where this is going to lead us.