Questioning what we think we know


Part 1: Pre-departure activity

Part 2: Pre-departure activity (extended)

Part 3: In-country activity

Part 4: Re-entry activity

Rationale/ Development

Partner organisations have indicated to the CoMC Team that they would like students to leave Australia with a better understanding of their host country’s recent history, political situation, culture and belief systems etc. This set of activities encourages students to question the dominant stories and representations that they or others may have about other peoples, places or cultures and where these come from. It links to the previous activity, ‘The Danger of a Single Story’.


Part 1:  30 mins

Part 2: 45 mins

Part 3: 1 hour

Part 4: 45 mins


Post-it notes

Part 1: The process

  • Ask each individual student to spend five minutes thinking about any stories they have heard about the country they will be visiting.
  • Ask the students to represent these stories on post-it notes and place them on display. The facilitator should group these notes together in themes in order to facilitate discussion.
  • Discussion should focus around the sources of student knowledge (e.g. films, television, readings, family heritage/connections). The idea is to interrogate these sources of information and draw out issues of (mis)representation and to encourage an openness to the possibility of alternative stories.
  • Refer students to additional resources listed and available on CoMC site (e.g. country-specific readings and partner videos).

Part 2: The process

  • Ask students to find two different perspectives (from newspapers, social media, academic articles) on one of the following social justice issues that relates to their planned international placement. The various issues have been selected by PACE partner organisations:
  1. Child marriage (Restless Development, Pravah)
  2. Corruption (Cambodian partners)
  3. Works rights (Cambodian partners)
  4. Child protection (Bahay Tuluyan, KOTO, Pravah, Restless Development)
  5. Education (all partner organisations)
  6. Indigenous Land Rights (PACOS)
  7. Poverty (all partner organisations)
  8. Disability (DDP)
  • Ask students to write 200-300 words on their chosen topic.  Keep for future reference.


Part 3: The process

  • Once in-country, ask students to research their chosen topic in the local context. This might involve an interview with the partner organisation, listening to a community radio program or reading a local newspaper / magazine.
  • Ask students to write 200-300 words on their chosen topic.  Keep for future reference.

Part 4: The process

  • Upon re-entry, ask students to work in pairs according to topic selection and to read their written pieces pre-departure and in-country.
  • Ask paired students to compare the content through a process of correlation to identify points of commonality and divergence.
  • Ask students to report back their findings to the larger group and consider how the local perspective can shed light on the international perspective and vice-versa.