Joining Soliya was an amazing experience. I was a little bit nervous at the beginning of the program as I was scared, I thought I would feel awkward or I won’t get along with the people in my group, also I was scared that I won’t be able to have a dialogue with new people from different countries. Surprisingly, everything I thought of was wrong and I was very upset that this experience will come to an end.
When I attended the first class, I introduced myself to the group and they were all very friendly and humble, even Anna the coordinator was very sweet and she was always keen to keep a conversation going between us, either by having us all to talk in the main room or splitting us into breakout rooms to help us engage more, and every class she would split us into different groups and each time I would meet a new person and learn new thing about them and their culture. The dialogue in soliya was completely different, it is different from my online zoom classes at university with my professors and colleagues. The fact that I met new people from all over the globe made me curious and keen to learn more about the different cultures, however, the regular dialogues we have for university are completely different as the professor would be always talking and us students would barely engage. I believe that the way our professors handle the class is different. The professor would prepare slides and read them on zoom then by the end of the class they would ask us if we have any questions, and people would barely engage because we did not have a dialogue or a discussion first about the topic to simulate questions to be asked. This is the main difference, or coordinator would ask us to prepare questions about a certain topic then we would discuss them next week in class, and here the dialogue of the previously prepared questions would simulate more questions hence the dialogue will keep going.
I learnt that I am the type of communicator who does not start a dialogue, I would listen first then discuss. I believe that this is something related to my personality. However, engaging in this connect program gave my self-esteem a boost as I am not a person who easily engages with people I have never met before, however, I did not find any troubles in that.
On the other hand, ever since we have switched to learning online, I never liked to open my camera because I was more comfortable having it closed. However, in soliya we were asked to keep our cameras open and I believe that having our cameras open was something that made us all engage and It made the communication easier as we were able to see each others’ facial expressions, and that is very important in a dialogue or in communication in general. Also, the fact that we were a small group made the communication easier between us as I find it difficult to have a dialogue with a large group, and I would personally prefer not to engage for many reasons such as I would feel intimidated by the large group. Participating in soliya was a new experience to me, I loved all the session, I never got bored in any, and most importantly I was able to connect with a couple of people who I can call my friends now. I am grateful for this experience because I learnt a lot of new things and most importantly, I learnt that I am capable of connecting with people of different cultures, norms and beliefs.