Final Soliya reflection

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Soliya was a program that connected students all across the world to share their experiences and learn from each other’s differences. It wasn’t my first cross cultural program that I had to do over zoom however, Soliya was different. My past programs always consisted of meeting a whole group from another country and a moderator would control all the factors of dialogue between the two classes. In Soliya, I had students from Afghanistan, Palestine, USA and even Oman. However, the best thing about Soliya was how the students had the freedom to explore any of the discussions further. With other cross-cultural programs it always feel like a structured debate where you have to speak in a certain format and at a certain time. Having the freedom to carry out a dialogue with my peers in Soliya allowed me to learn more about them and feel more comfortable with sharing my thoughts. Another thing that makes soliya different that other communication platforms is the nature of the dialogues and how we get introduced to our peers. The way we engage in dialogues that allows us to share our experiences makes us all feel like we have things in common and that make it easier for everyone to open up.

I learnt that I’m not a big fan of sharing content online especially if it’s something personal. All my social media platforms don’t accurately present who I am in real life. I find it way easier to communicate and socialize in real life than on social media. It was also very interesting hearing the answers of my peers in Soliya to this question since some of them said that they are introverts in real life but they find it easier to share their thoughts and express themselves on social media. I have also realized that I wouldn’t feel as nervous about sharing content if it’s a platform such as Reddit that doesn’t necessarily reveal your identity to everyone. I have also realized that when it comes to popular social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook I usually share things I care about when it comes to social justice movements or environmental issues but I don’t like sharing my daily activities or personal pictures. We also discussed dangers of revealing too much of your identity on social media platforms especially public accounts which I thought that I don’t have that much of a problem since I don’t post a lot. I was wrong, my passwords were all almost the same and I didn’t constantly check my private information but I gladly changed that.

To foster a constructive communication it is crucial to be respectful. By respectful I mean to be careful with your tone and choice of wording. Wording and tones has a great impact and especially if it’s through an online platform sometimes the tone can’t be detected to it’s important to choose the right words to convey your idea. One of the most important things to carry out a successful dialogue and communicate well is to learn how to listen. Listening to other people’s opinions and ideas can sometimes be hard especially if you don’t agree with them. However, listening helps you to understand better and you might find out that there’s another way to look at the problem so it’s for everyone’s benefit. You would also want to be heard so it should go both ways. I think that there is minimal differences between how you should communicate online or in real life because the basis of a proper communication are the same.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience in Soliya. I felt privileged to be able to interact with different cultures and different backgrounds. I also appreciated the girls in my program from Palestine and Afghanistan for sharing their experiences regarding war and education. I have learned a lot from them and from everyone and I found it very inspiring.

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