Cross-cultural well-being: Canvasing campus experience through story, art, and film

5 September 2022

A new cross-cultural project has found that “mundane moments matter” when it comes to wellbeing. Cross-cultural well-being: Canvasing campus experience through story, art, and film emerged from a pilot study exploring wellbeing and identity involving researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ), Griffith, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and students from HKU and UQ (September-December 2021). Through experiential learning activities including collaborative “yarning” methodology-led storytelling, conceptualising and creation of artefacts, and producing a short-film, students learn about self-identity and wellbeing. Through this project, students also explored differences and convergences across two contrasting contexts, while deepening intercultural understanding, engaging in cross-disciplinary knowledge exchange, and design-based learning.

The project, which received funding from the Gallant Ho Experiential Funding and the School of Education Teaching and Learning fund, was led by Dr Suraiya Hameed, Dr Kate McLay, and Dr Huong Nguyen from UQ, Dr Jack Tsao from HKU, and Dr Danielle Heinrichs from Griffith University. Dr Marnee Shay, ARC DAATSIA Senior Research Fellow from UQ School of Education facilitated the Identity and well-being workshop virtually with students from HKU and UQ, which was a key component in the project. Findings from the study were recently presented by Dr Heinrichs, Dr Hameed & Dr Jack Tsao at the Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference hosted by the National Institute of Education at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore on 2nd June 2022.

The impetus for the project was a collective concern for student wellbeing during the pandemic, particularly international students.

“We noticed that students were feeling disconnected and lonely, and we had seen the impact on attrition, engagement and motivation. We wanted to help them build a sense of identity and belonging to the university campus through this time” (Researchers UQ, HKU & Griffith)

An additional key takeaway from the project lies in helping students develop ‘future readiness’ and further expanding their capacities in interdisciplinarity, internationalisation, and hybrid forms of learning. Learning from the project will continue to be a ‘sandbox’ for the University in finding new ways to engage, experiment and enjoy teaching, learning and research. The team is planning the second phase of the project involving students from three campuses: UQ, HKU and Griffith University. This second phase will focus on cultural identity, connectedness, and sense of belonging and wellbeing. The goal is to deepen intercultural understanding through developing valuable relationships with overseas students.