Game-changing Leaders

Game-changing Leaders
Learning Brief


Inspiring collective transformation and cross-cultural bonding amongst youth from different backgrounds

Category: Game-changing Leaders | Youth leadership pathways | 24 January, 2014 - 18:00



LivingIt challenges and trains youth aged 12 – 28 years to make short films that inspire collective transformation. We provide a local and global platform for their end product or films. The LivingIt vision is to inspire the lived experience of Ubuntu and unity consciousness by supporting the voice of the youth through the medium of film or any other practical methods.

Our “Bonding” Project

We recently selected 16 learners from two very different high schools in the Western Cape (Parel Vallei High in Somerset West and Macassar High in Macassar) to participate in our new Bonding project. The learners were paired-up and required to meet weekly where they would bond together. The pairs would then identify a social issue to work on and make a short film about it.

The expected project outcomes were to connect young people across racial and class divides, help them develop an understanding of critical global and social challenges, and equip them with film making skills through which to communicate their stories.

Types of Bonding Activities

We realised that there are difficulties in getting teenagers to bond with strangers and so we took a number of steps to deepen the bonding experience through three select activities:

1. We brought the learners together on the first day at a venue unknown to any of them (Oude Libertas) and facilitated the meeting through physical theatre. They had to touch, carry, and lift each other physically. They took part in a trust-fall game where they had to fall backwards and be caught by the others.

2. We alternated the venue for the subsequent training workshops between the two schools so that the pairs of learners could see and experience the daily circumstances of their peers in a much deeper way.

3. We spent half an hour before each Friday’s lecture focusing only on bonding and trusting exercises.

What worked well?

Teacher involvement: The teachers were very involved in this project and helped make and serve refreshments during the meetings. One teacher organised an outing for the learners to a film screening. Subsequent weekly film screening at the school were also organised.

Overall we found that the regular Friday bonding exercises had the most impact and led to the real breakthrough that would make this pairing our most successful so far. What was originally intended to be a short exercise in sharing feelings every Friday, turned into a deep session of emotional release for many of the learners. The learners really bonded during this time and some even began to speak about each other as “brothers and sisters”. It was clear that a deep trust was established during these bonding sessions.

Our bonding activities encouraged learners to step out of their comfort zones and to view life from the perspective of the “other”. For instance we sometimes required the girls and boys to reverse traditional stereotypical gender roles, such as cooking and washing. Boys were often put in charge of preparing the food for the group and this challenged their preconceived ideas about male and female roles in society.

Further information about these sessions can be found at our “About Karok” article, available at

Challenges in the bonding process

We let the learners express their diverse views during the lectures and discussion sessions but we found that the Macassar learners had more challenges to overcome in voicing their opinions, and were not as confident and vocal as their counterparts from the Parel Vallei school.

Learners from both groups gained confidence from this project but despite their positive feedback, learners were reluctant to extend their relationship into their household settings. Learners were asked to invite each other to their homes but they hesitated with this task. We noticed that the Macassar learners particularly found this a difficult challenge because they have a long history of shame, poverty and embarrassment to overcome. When home visits were suggested, they were not enthusiastic.

Implementation lessons

Through our Bonding Project we have learnt the following lessons about bringing diverse groups together. We would strongly recommend that any other party wanting to implement a similar bonding project follow these steps outlined below.

  • It is important to work with teachers who are positive and inspire the learners and who are invested in the project’s goals;
  • It is imperative to overturn the traditional viewpoint that one party is the giver, and the other is the receiver, and teach youngsters that giving and receiving is a two-way relationship;
  • It is important to conduct the three bonding activities highlighted at the beginning of the brief, to ensure bonding between the learners;
  • Put aside extra time for the learners’ emotional release;
  • Ideally the two schools involved in the bonding project should be brought together again in the future to deepen the bond that was initially established.

Future plans

In the future we would like to take this particular bonding project to the next level by pairing the same schools together to participate in other activities, such as sport, or cultural events. This would mean getting principals to buy into our project aims. For instance, the principal at Macassar has extensive experience in indigenous gardening and has created a paradise in the sand dunes with the support of the Kirstenbosch botanical Gardens and the British royal family fund. We envision a gardening partnership between Macassar and Parel Vallei learnes and teachers that could deepen the blossoming relationship between these schools.


PO Box 2144Parel ValleiSomerset-West

In Short

The LivingIt Bonding Project brings together learners from diverse backgrounds in order to foster trusting caring relationships that transcend stereotypes and the learners’ backgrounds. Based on the lessons learned through their project, LivingIt recommends that other organisations wanting to implement a similar cross-cutting project conduct three core bonding activities: a retreat/camp, continual Friday school visits, and intensive binding workshops. In this brief they explain how to conduct these activities.

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