Developing Relationships

Rationale / Development

Successful student placements rely heavily on students developing positive and respectful relationships with their local colleagues. Although the tangible project outcomes are of value to the organisations they are secondary to the building of meaningful relationships with colleagues and community members (see Hammersley et al, 2014).

Catherine Scerri from Bahay Tuluyan:

100% of the success that we find when we have people coming in from outside… comes through relationships and those relationships come from when people feel like they are being respected. We’ve had volunteers that come in, come in to the office to do the work and leave and they will go home with a fairly mediocre experience because they haven’t been able to engage, they haven’t been embraced by local people…regardless of any of the technical official output that you achieve, I think that’s where the connections are made and you will go leaps and bounds ahead if people feel you are making an effort.

This activity aims to facilitate student discussion on this topic.


60 mins


Video footage (see videos below):

ACF (cambodia):

DDP (Cambodia):

AIJI (Cambodia):

KOTO (Vietnam):

Restless Development (India):

PACOS (Sabah, Malayasia):


  1. Share video from Catherine (containing the quote above) on relationship building [insert link]
  2. Ask students to think about the ways in which they might build intercultural relationships, recording their ideas on large format paper
  3. Share the following videos from partners:

After students hear from each partner, give them the opportunity to record their ideas in respect to building relationships, adding them to the list.

  1. Remind students that not each of the ideas will work for everyone. They also need to be mindful of their particular context and remain flexible. While keeping this in mind, ask students to individually decide and write a number of ‘intention statements’ about how they plan to develop relationships while on placement.

Bahay Tuluyan (Philippines)

ACF (Cambodia)

DDP (Cambodia)

AIJI (Cambodia)

KOTO (Vietnam)

Restless Development (India)

PACOS (Sabah, Malaysia)