MDes Talks: Building Togetherness through Differences

I'm pretty sure almost everyone likes to do internet tests. Some are for fun, some are for satisfying curiosity, but in the end, it is a constant search for knowing more about yourself. It is rare to find tests you can trust, and the most well-known one is the 16 types of personalities

People share same core virtues and strengths, just in different amount

At PolyU, it is possible to volunteer yourself to be a “laboratory rat” for some research studies. I tried once and the process began by filling out some forms and later, the researchers requested participants to take this survey. In fact, this is pretty interesting because the results of the survey are used to produce a report that shows your personal qualities (referred as “strengths”), ranked in orders. As mentioned on their website, while other tests usually diagnose the negative and neutral traits, they, on the other hand, take an affirmative stance and give a positive perspective. It is said that everyone has all 24 strengths but in a different amount. Each strength falls under one of the six core virtues which are universal across cultures and nations, according to the report.

For example, my test shows my core virtues are: humility, kindness and honesty while my closest friend took the survey and hers are creativity, hope, perspective. This was a little bit disappointing just to find out the representative core virtues, and that I was not given a corresponding analysis or told what I could do with this knowledge. Yet, I soon realised something else.

What makes these tests so interesting? They are ways to know what comes naturally (higher ranked strength) and what require more effort to use (lower ranked strength) that may need some work.

Student diversity by personalities

For MDes UED students, the new phase has been concluded: after a year together, the capstone research has been presented. While the diversity of student group is usually based on nationalities, I rather see a class with 12 students with different personalities, which lead to very different and interesting works produced.

MDes Talks: Building Togetherness through Differences

After much team-based learning, Capstone Research is the first individual project in a long time, and certainly is a significant one. In this process, students tend to struggle due to lack of confidence and self-imposing doubts, about the work and eventually about oneself.

During past months of study, students were met with the pressure of the assignments and deadlines, hence experienced the emotional ups and downs. Not to mention the extras for those adventurous students from abroad, meaning the part on adapting to Hong Kong, missing friends, food and home.

But don’t worry, the feeling of uncertainty isn’t the first time, and neither the last time that it will happen. Stop comparing with others as each person is different. Work to make the best use of your strengths. Improve to challenge your weakness.

A group approach to undertaking an individual project: seeking and sharing

A key to “survive” is to try your best and try to work in a group setting, whenever possible. In this example of Capstone Research, it is a three months’ period of an in-depth study of a chosen topic in urban built environments, also the foundation of the capstone project. Even though it is an individual project, working all alone can make you go crazy, after all this is not a competition.

The subject brief is the only common thread, a structure to help organise the sub-topics to be researched and presented in a specified format.

Capstone Research is an application of knowledge learnt in the past nine months and this knowledge was built from discussions and exchanges during the seminars and studio. In this connection, working alone in the research process is a bit selfish. We will need each other talk through the concepts, to verify what works and in what context.

Even some cultures tend to be more open and sociable like Latinos, and some tend to keep their views to themselves, you will always find someone closer to you, to bring maturity, a different perspective to your work. At a personal level, this intellectual exchange and friendship will bring our personality closer to completeness (honesty, friendship, humbleness...). As a millennial, this is perhaps the reason why I value collaboration more.

Research outcomes

Having friends to share the work helped me build and improve ideas and how to present them visually. At the end, the ideas and diagrams gained more clarity. I guess for my closest classmate, the best part was about having someone to chat and brainstorm, making the time working enjoyable.

MDes Talks: Building Togetherness through DifferencesMDes Talks: Building Togetherness through DifferencesMDes Talks: Building Togetherness through DifferencesMDes Talks: Building Togetherness through DifferencesMDes Talks: Building Togetherness through Differences

Outcomes of the three months’ work are projects in different fields. These includes topics directly linked to architecture (e.g. Potential and Transformation of Industrial Buildings, Tulou - a traditional communal residence found in China’s Fujian Province), or topics linking different fields using spatial design (Economy and Health), or about spatial transformation, or about asking the fundamental questions (What is Home for Millennials in Hong Kong). Each result had a different approach and presentation: some used diagrams and some used photographs, others used movies as references. The School is open to this diversity of presentations and ways to think and approach a topic, what they value the most is the process and effort during the discovery and research. It is rather the students own decision to choose their best approach to answers their research question.

The idea of being entirely responsible for a decision can be overwhelming. I learnt to step up and achieved what has been set out to do, through collective efforts.

MDes Talks: Building Togetherness through Differences

To the new students and the new scholar year I can only give the warmest welcome and with the most enjoyable time, always make the best out of the bad and also the good moments, not only inside the school but also outside. Hopefully in the end, you will be able to know yourself better and have lifetime friends and connections, through this experience called MDes.


Photo Credit: Sylvia Yeung

Posted by Sylvia Yeung - Living the 20's years old issues and doubts. Born in Brazil, with the heart in Hong Kong. Graduated in Architecture and Urban Planning at Mackenzie Presbyterian University, Sao Paulo. Living and exploring the concrete jungle and mix of emotions contained in the city where the journey of the ancestors began. A current Master's student in Urban Environments Design (MDes).
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MDes Talks is a series of Student Blogs contributed by students in different specialisms under the Master of Design Scheme. It is set out to share students’ first-hand experience in the d-school pedagogy, their projects, takeaways, and student life in general.
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