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Tribeless Conversations @ STEP AUS 2019


Our largest undertaking yet – and all the way in Singapore, too:

Hosting Tribeless Conversations for 190 (!) attendees at the STEP Asian Undergraduate Summit 2019.

STEP AUS is a student-led international program under the National University of Singapore (NUS) University Scholars Programme (USP), supported by Temasek Foundation International..

Their goal is to build a platform for interdisciplinary undergraduates across Asia to come together and engage in meaningful academic and inter-cultural exchange. For 2019’s summit, they spent 7 full days of working together in an intercultural team.

Such high levels of diversity also brought the potential for misunderstandings, judgements and biases.

The organizer’s biggest question was:

“How might we create an environment where every delegate could feel comfortable opening up and expressing themselves?”

That’s where TRIBELESS came in.



the day before: training

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learning how to hold space

16 volunteer facilitators gathered in NUS for a short training on the facilitation process behind The Empathy Box, led by Shawn.

We played some games, practiced empathic listening, and broke off into smaller groups to practice amongst themselves.

By the end of the 3 hours, every single volunteer felt excited and up to the task ahead! ✨

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the evening of: briefing & set up

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setting (up) the space

As international delegates came trickling in throughout the first day, we began our work at 6pm.

Each delegate has already been assigned a Group – representing the 12 delegates they’ll be having their Tribeless Conversation with!

Since each of the Groups were assigned to different rooms, the volunteer facilitators went around to each of the rooms to set up the space… Ensuring everything was ready when their Groups arrived!


post-dinner session: breakout

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setting the tone

At 8PM, right after dinner ended, Shawn gave a quick introduction to Tribeless and the session. The room was buzzing with curiosity!

“Tonight, we’re here to bond and skip the small talk,” he said, and with that, he released the Groups to head to their respective rooms!


top 3 words chosen:

#3 – change

#2 – confidence

#1 – friendship

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and let the sessions begin!

Once the Groups settled into their rooms, the volunteer facilitators kicked off the Conversation!

With each delegate picking their own word (specifying the story they were going to tell), the rooms were soon filled with chatter. 💛


evening session: Tribeless Conversations


Two hours of open, honest, empathic conversations between international delegates from 9 countries.

How powerful is that? We’ll let the pictures tell the story.


It may seem like a simple, two-hour interaction…

But Tribeless Conversations have the power to transform, educate and inspire.

what impact did these conversations have?

(based on 189 reflection form responses)



felt heard & understood during the conversation


learned to listen and think for others before responding


have a deeper understanding about the world and themselves


more accepting of perspectives different than their own

= deeper engagement & empathy-building



feel more comfortable interacting with their group members


are more likely to bring up new ideas / opinions when discussing with their group


gained more motivation to work better with their group, despite only having met that day


felt that we're ultimately more similar than we are different as human beings :)

= increased intercultural teamwork & cooperation


but don’t just take it from us…

Here’s what STEP AUS 2019 delegates have to say!


hear from the organizer herself – Melanie Chng


“We incorporated Tribeless Conversations as the first starter activity in this year’s STEP Asian Undergraduate Summit, as we wanted an activity that helps our participants empathise with each others’ different backgrounds and stories.

With participants flying in from 9 different countries across the continent, we wanted to make sure that they could move past their cultural barriers – and learn to communicate with each other smoothly.

During the Tribeless Conversation, it was heartening to hear our participants exchange their stories, express support for each other and find connections with each other even within their diverse stories. Even after the session ended, participants continued to carry around their Empathy Box cards and use it in their interactions with each other!

We were happy to see that the Tribeless Conversations helped to create a culture of support and affirmation amongst our participants, which set the tone for the rest of the conference.

Working with Tribeless was a very smooth and enjoyable process, where we were always assured that we did not need to worry about anything. Shawn was always on the ball about handling any request or answering any questions we had, and helped to ensure that everything ran smoothly on the day of the event itself.

As one of the most well-received programme segments of STEP AUS 2019, we look forward to the opportunity of working with Tribeless again in future iterations of AUS to bring together our diverse community!”


Thank you so much, Melanie and the STEP AUS 2019 Committee, for giving us the space to work our magic. 🔥

Want to explore with us for your next event?