Islands of Hope and Hopelessness


This activity was developed by Restless Development, a youth-led development agency. It was used by the CoMC team to develop intercultural relationships at the commencement of a curriculum co-creation workshop. It is a useful activity to initiate student discussion about the following:

  • How to work as a team
  • How to communicate effectively
  • Different cultures and behavioural codes
  • How to adjust and adapt to different situations while working in an international context
  • Particular cultural challenges that might exist working as an international team




  • 6 small pieces of cardboard – which can be used to build a bridge between the islands
  • Enough cotton cloth pieces to blind fold people on the Island of Hopelessness
  • Enough cotton cloth pieces to tie mouths of people on Island of Hope
  • Rope or tape


  • Divide the participants into 3 teams
  • Draw or mark out 3 circles in the room (with rope or tape) – these will be two Islands of Hopelessness (Hopelessness 1 and Hopelessness 2) and one Island of Hope. Ask each team to stand in one of these circles.
    • Those who are standing in the Island of Hope are tied together in a circle (link arms)
    • Those who are standing in the Island of Hopelessness 1 cannot talk
    • Those who are standing in the Island of Hopelessness 2 are blindfolded
  • Once volunteers are standing in the islands the facilitator explains the game. “We are a team but somehow we have landed in different islands. The Islands of Hopelessness are sinking slowly and we have only 20 minutes to save the people. As a team we have to work out how to do something to bring everybody to Island of Hope. They cannot walk in the river because there are deadly crocodiles roaming around the islands.
  • Facilitator places a pile of 6 square pieces of card in front of the Island of Hopelessness 2 (those who have been blindfolded)


  • Give participants the opportunity to work out a solution to this problem.
  • After 20 minutes bring the group together to discuss:
    • What happened?
    • How did they work as a team – the successes and failures?
    • How did they communicate – the successes and failures?
    • Was trust built and if so how?
    • Were there were any issues relating to cultural difficulties e.g. gender, physical contact with other people?