Teamwork, Intensity and a Microphone



“Unforgettable in every way and forevermore that’s how you’ll stay.”

Unforgettable, Irving Gordon


What a crazy week; one of the most intense and rewarding of my life! It was challenging on so many levels; culture shock, exhaustion, language barriers, the quarry and its’ devastation, the food and its’ revelation; our group and its’ disappearing team members. But in the end, it all came together, as it always does.

By the time I had been to the crazy print shop and back (complete with indoor spitting) Ahmad had whipped up a website for our proposal: So cool!

I was proud of our pitch; I think it really embodied so many of the design thinking principles I have learnt in U.lab. Sadly, I don’t think it was as successful with the local delegates for the same reason. Perhaps they could have benefited from a stoker…

Sigh – what a relief! Well done to all the teams, I think we all succeeded in transforming our challenges into achievements and it was so great to sit on the lawn and sip that evening beer and celebrate! What a delightful way to end the week, with the sun shining and a feathered hacky-sack tapping from toe to toe.

Of course it did not end there… Several rounds of dumplings and beers later we ended up at KTV – karaoke extravaganza in Dalian city, complete with mirrored corridors and uptight bouncers patrolling them; a crazy place to top off a crazy week, and disgrace ourselves in the comfort of our own private concert hall.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Co-opolis. A special thanks to the girls that made me feel so welcome: Ashily, Cindy, Adele, Yaya, Betty and Xanadu. I can’t wait to see how Sydney blows your minds in the same way that Dalian did for me!


Back to Basics


Day 5


[CW5] I found that state change allowed me to rely on my basic values or traits. Because I was out of my regular comfort zone, somehow I always tried to hold on to what I knew well, especially when there were deadlines and short time frames.  


Therefore, I found that our team’s strengths and weaknesses were portrayed and presented. Weaknesses included panic, frustration, confusion, shyness, and no time management. Our strengths were the opposite of each, luckily, like calmness, fun, focus and clarity, confidence and good time-management. We made the team dynamics work well in the end, as each team member brought in his or her fundamental selves to the table. I thought whatever we presented and however we pitched this day was a correct image to how our team operated.  


So while this state change intensified our traits, our exaggerated selves were portrayed on the last day. Our exaggerated ideas and creative factors were squeezed out of us, and during presentation, we linked everything together. The progress was faster than before, as we had to rely on our strengths in times of intensity and in an environment we were not accustomed to. Normally, these types of projects take weeks! In fact, on presentation day, I found myself caught by surprise.   




[CW4] State Change in Teamwork during Processes of Prototyping and Testing



The previous evening with our early mark and subsequent relaxation, albeit with flooding sewage across our feet – or over my boots and on my skirt until someone pointed it out – while drinking cheap rice wine, in a street stall, by the police van just outside the campus, was much appreciated come Thursday morning. On Thursday the intensity upped a gear.


Whilst I accidentally slept in on the Thursday morning, I didn’t get back to bed until the sun was rising on the following Friday morning. The state change from the night before of play, back into work on the Thursday morning, had the impact of a really effective stoker. On Thursday morning, after a doubly strong dark coffee and some packaged sweet French bread, I was ready to prod the sparks of our project until it burst into flames – in a positive, non-pyromaniac sort of way.


The rest of the team had already begun work. Sketches were beginning to convey an idea of what our development would look like. I sat down and continued to develop our business canvas. Work persisted in earnest.


State change impacted teamwork in our prototyping through changing methods of collaboration and types of intelligence used. This took place through changes in mediums of communication, from verbal and written language, to images and other modes of representation. In addition, an effective 5×5 to create a brand and logo caused us to communicate kinaesthetically and artistically through role plays and bodily movement. These changes positively influenced our teamwork. Cooperation increased with a better understanding of each other’s thoughts, feelings, impressions and ideas of the development. This was achieved through the state change’s impact on communication. Testing did not take place as we did not have the time to return to our empathy interviewees at this stage. However outside opinions through discussions did occur with other teams and staff. Somehow the day wore on and sunset began to hint at its arrival.


Red bull arrived. Darkness followed.


Plastic tubs of curry and rice appeared for our team, thoughtfully organised by one of our DUT teammates. Industrial espionage was undertaken. A very sickly sounding and thinking Nath Wiltshire provided some tables spread out with edible goodies purchased nearby. Bananas, apples, tea bags aplenty, biscuits, instant noodles and more were laid out for our consumption. Bananas were the first to go.


The night wore on.


In the early hours of the morning, Max (Xiangyu) Ma, a UTS student on another team, valiantly offered to be my knight escort back to the hotel. I needed to pick up my laptop and bring it back to the workshop. We sang songs under the moon. We planned a surprise return to the workshop a little too effectively, terrifying one of my DUT teammates to the extent that I later apologised, by pulling strange faces in the window until someone saw us to let us in.


Finally, as the sun began to rise, Cristian and I headed back to the hotel, with the prospect of more work to be done in the morning, but good progress having been made. Our DUT teammates, we found out later, had stoically continued throughout the night.

Out comes the sun.


“Moving between mental states can shape how we see the world. Likewise, changing location, culture and collaborators can shift our state of being.”

There is no better quote that can represent my thoughts at this very moment. These past days in Dalian have been all about state-change: climate, language, culture, cusine … it’s all different, it’s all new. And as a consequence my eyes are whide open, I smell everything I eat, I listen to every single noise or voice I hear, I observe people more carefully, I look at their expressions and gestures with scrutiny. My brain is absorbing so much new information – and I feel it’s all essential to survive, to familiarize with this new world, to create for myself some new datum points on which to rely on.

Surprisingly this state-change has also given me more concentration: I’m not distracted by all of these new stimulus, on the contrary its intensity has boosted my attention and ability to keep focused.

This morning I was thinking about this mutual never ending process of change leading to discovery and vice versa, when I experienced an other state-change. As I opened the windows to let some light and fresh air into the room I was pleased to see that the fog had disappeared to leave space to a tiepid sun. I found it quite meaningful considering this was the first day we were actually going to concentrate on designing a solution – a great new beginning for a meaningful positive transformation.

In the afternoon, after a few fun rounds of hacky-sack, during which we got to release some tension and shift the atmosphere, all groups participated in a 5X5 design activity that mainly was aimed at “exploring audience, values and brands”. Each step required a great deal of ideation and, as we went through the process switching tasks every five minutes, I noticed how we all responded very actively to each imput and how as a group were able to progress in one coherent direction.


Empathy Work


This morning saw me struggle to get out of bed where it was nice and warm and to make my way to class in the bitter cold (bitter by Sydney standards!).

Arriving at 8:00 am to find no one there, Dan and I decided to go for a walk to find something that resembled a coffee. After wandering around for 20 mins and yielding nothing, we decided to head back to class and begin for the day.

We had to conduct some empathy interviews later that day, and therefore needed to produce a list of questions to ask the interviewees! We also were required to come up with an initial concept for our proposal in a short period of time.

Our time limitations gave us the ability to focus on the task at hand and to generate a physical model of our concept that was not only colourful but also creative!

Our teamwork allowed us to utilise different skillsets and to play to our strengths when it came to developing the questions for the interviews as well as creating a model of our concepts!!!

I Will Depend on You for the Rest of my Life



Day 1

[CW1] Hi! I found that moving countries encouraged me to depend on others and keep communicating constantly. Because I was out of my comfort zone, I wanted to speak to both students/teachers from Sydney and China to get the information I needed to adapt to this new environment and culture shock! How did you sleep? Where do I sleep? Where/what do I eat? Did you like the food? Are you cold? What clothing do I need? What are you going to get up to today? Where do I go? These were the initial survival questions I asked.

After getting the basics somewhat covered, I had a sudden interest in this city I had not even heard of before a few months. Being thrown in Dalian to explore and find my way, together with some friends from Sydney, we started to compare it to Sydney and occasionally to some other cities. We found ourselves speaking sign language or pointing to things and words on paper.

Note to self: They actually do things differently here. There are different ways of living and working than to the one I know. I do not wear stockings under my pants in spring in Sydney. I should be more hospitable and go out of my way sometimes. I can eat lunch as my biggest meal. Breakfast does not need to be sweet. Sometimes you can work so hard in the city and never own a home-it is under the ownership of the government. Most people are moving to cities instead of buying a quarter acre block in the suburbs. It is common not to have more than one child for the benefit of the collective. We each had different observations and bounced off questions and comments about the city to each other. Because we were in total cluelessness, we had to rely on each other to get the most of the city and our desires met, at least I thought.

Communicating with the local students was so helpful in squeezing the most out of the city. One of my Chinese teammates bought me a Dalian map that was hand sketched and analysed- how did she know I needed that to reflect on all that we had seen the whole day to be compressed onto one giant piece of paper?

This state-change is a total exaggerated version of the things I do to keep the creative energy flowing. Not only am I going for a walk in Redfern to check out the latest renovated terrace and small business tea house start up, I am hiking in Dalian where I have an information overload of things I have not seen or heard- except in movies, sometimes. And I have to find my way too, as there is a language barrier, which helps in expanding my mind.

This state change I can say pulls us right to our core beings, and all our strengths, weaknesses and ideas are squeezed right out of us. Then we are placed in a team of people with a similar purpose but extremely different dynamics. I have already seen how, even though sometimes it is frustrating that we are not similar, we do actually complement each other to work creatively and productively. We are each a vital part of the team. If one person throws around many ideas, there is another who will analyse each one-or highlight the helpful ones. If one person goes too fast, the other will slow the pace down-and vice versa. If one person is louder, the other is mellower. So, yes, even though I do not like to admit this: I depend on you.


Teamwork, Intensity and a Quarry

“On the bald street breaks the blank day” 


{“On the bald street breaks the blank day” “


“On the bald street breaks the blank day.”

In Memoriam A.H.H, Alfred Lord Tennyson

It was over the lunch of fragrant, steamed fish that our Cino-Aussie group first communicated in genuine earnest. Food is the ultimate international language; a unifier. With ginger and chilli burning warm in our bellies, we boarded the bus for our site visit to the former quarry. The comfort of our heart-warming meal, dissipated quickly, as we travelled deeper and deeper into the industrial wasteland outside Dalian. Finally arriving, at one of the bleakest places I have ever visited; barren, scarred, apocalyptic. 

From lush, affluent Sydney, the devastation was all-encompassing. The intensity of the inequity between our two cultures and their inexorable connection was overwhelming and suffocating, like the poisoned air that filled the vacuous chasm that we stood in. A sea of plastic, sorted into bags of colour, played out like an artist’s palette of environmental devastation. Crushed and smashed, ready for recycling, the plastics read like a horror story of industrial carnage. Much like communist relics that litter the landscape of Eastern Europe, devoured by vines and crumbling with age, these forlorn broken toys and old air-conditioners seemed to signify the end of a great era and the sad remnants of what remains. 

The raw intensity of this profound moment has exacerbated the clarity of the task at hand for both teams, in fact it is irrelevant where you come from or what you have previously learned about the world, this blight can no longer be ignored. It represents so many of the great injustices in our world and we are compelled to make it better. In this quarry, we found a uniting call to action and this momentum broke down any social barriers still remaining between us as students and provided a firm foundation for our teamwork and our inevitable friendship.