Co-lab and experiments

Marco Polo Project has worked with a broad range of partners to pilot new modes of intercultural engagement. Our programs are a blueprint for the kind of change we want see across the educations system. Each program explore new ways to bring together young and diverse groups to address real issues.

This page gives a quick overview of some of our experimental programs.

RMIT Work Integrated Learning Online

How can students become leading professionals? Work placement is a well-established and effective approach to develop workplace skills. Due to COVID19 restrictions RMIT Youth Work students needed a new approach to develop their workplace skills. In 6 weeks we transformed them from 0 design and delivery knowledge to facilitating a 2-hour interactive workshop.

Monash Indonesia Engagement Project: Monash University

How do we listen to students not engaging? Monash University Deputy Vice Chancellor Global Professor Abid Kahn asked us this question. He was thinking about the Indonesian students arriving in growing numbers. We responded with our teams 10 years of Indonesia experience. This co-developed a program to train leaders through COVID19.

Real Day Out: Victorian TAFE Association

How can employers recognise the talent of international students? The TAFE sector is more than trade skills, and international students are more than a liability. This program debunked these assumptions in a day-event across the City of Melbourne. Students worked through their real challenges, learnt about the workforce and applied design thinking principles. We managed the re-design, stakeholder engagement, marketing, delivery and reporting for this event. Workplaces involved included:

  • PriceWaterhouse Coopers
  • KPMG

  • City of Melbourne

  • VicSuper

  • Immigration Museum

  • TAA Vic

Design For Diversity: DEDJTR Victorian Government

How can students make the most of Melbourne’s cultural diversity? DEDJTR was curious how to improve the wellbeing and cohesion of young people. In collaboration with Cultural Intelligence we proposed a new opportunity for students to share their own insights. Design for Diversity (D4D) is a learning program that harnesses Design Thinking to better integrate both international students and domestic students to their study environment by increasing their agency and visibility. We explored a six-week and 2 day-long hackathons to give students flexibility around their schedules. At the end of the program they celebrated with the community the proposals they had collectively imagined.

Insight Academy School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Business School

Over more than 2 years we have worked with Jose Alonso and the team to support their mission. We have brought to their experienced team a depth of policy, education and human-centred-design experience. Together we have:

  • Supported redesign of curriculum to incorporate human-centred-design

  • Delivered interactive workshops on human-centred-design, business challenge identification, time-management and more

  • Designed and hosted masterclasses and community events

  • Developed online and in-person English language support

  • Supported staff in developing compliance policy and processes

FBBI (Indonesia Language and Culture Festival): VILTA

This high-school program gathered over 600 youth in rural and urban Australia. This collaboration was an opportunity for Indonesian university students to share their culture on their own terms. They lead dance, arts, sport and other cultural activities to deeply engage the young crowd in small sessions. This was a joint initiative between Marco Polo Project and VILTA (DETVic) with the generous support of:

  • University of Melbourne

  • Monash University

  • RMIT

  • Deakin University

  • Consulate General Republic of Indonesia

  • Defence Force School of Languages

  • Australia-Indonesia Youth Association

  • PPIA (Indonesia Undergraduate Student Association)

  • LPDP (Indonesian Post-graduate Scholar Society)

  • And many others

Peranakan Conference: Herb Feith Indonesia Engagement Centre, Monash University

International conference bringing together world-leading research on Peranakan (Chinese-Indonesian) issues. This three day event was a unique platform for this community to tell stories about themselves. It included a diverse range of presentations including research presentations, Batik showings, interactive crafts, food demonstrations and more.

Marco Polo Project provided support to include youth as active participants, and coordinate volunteers to support this high-quality conference.

Grieving Rituals for 2020

How can we accept loss and find new meaning from it, individually and as a group? Grieving Rituals for 2020 gathered a diverse group to explore this question creatively. Helen Palmer and Julien Leyre guided them to develop and trial new rituals to acknowledge and overcome loss, and develop a deeper understanding of our grief for the year that was and was not. By the end, not only did the group experience better connection to themselves and their feelings for 2020 but also developed greater appreciation for rituals. Through this experiment they found themselves empowered and equipped to create these rituals in their diverse communities. You can hear about the participants’ experience on this link.

Digital Gathering Lab: Create Trust Online

Digital Gathering Lab is a collective of international education experts that share the same questions. We joined to explore how we might create trust better online and across cultures. This group of experts developed a program focused on research-backed approaches to improve team performance. This includes exploring:

  • SAFE: a new model to listen deeply and create psychological safety
  • Media Richness Theory: selecting the most valuable tools for your team
  • Interaction online: new traditions for the the online world

Campfire Crew

Campfire Crew is a youth-led initiative sharing expert insights with youth during COVID-19. This is a rapid-response program aimed to provide relief before dispersing into the community. The goal was to develop young peoples agency in a time of crisis unlike many other commercial focused initiatives. This allowed space to experiment with digital community building and online training initiatives.

Innovation Lab: University of Melbourne School of Economics

This pop-up lab gathered international students and itnroduced them to human centred design. In this day-long session they collectively explored the challenges they are facing on and off campus. At the end they presented prototypes and one team successfully gained an internship.

Marco Polo Translation Festival: Australia China Council

How has the Internet affected the way that people read, write and translate, in China and Australia? The Festival was initially sparked as two distinct projects that quickly collaborated: a mainly digital, distributed event, with panels in Beijing from Marco Polo Project – and a project to bring cutting-edge Chinese writers to Melbourne from LaTrobe University. This program involved:

  • Prequel: Talks at Digital Writers Festival and Sydney Ideas Festival

  • Translation tour: London, Leeds, Manchester, Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, Chengdu, and Beijing

  • Multi-event series: 6 interactive activities for Melbourne Writers Festival

  • Sequel: Beijing panel, Melbourne reading, Melbourne Knowledge Week Marathon, Singapore Writers Festival