When I was asked to write a reflection paper on the Soliya experience, I honestly had mixed feelings. On one hand, I remembered the discussion about gender equality, which I really liked, and on the other hand, I remembered some boring moments, too, unfortunately. Despite the fact that I was bored in the first two sessions, the last two were fun: we got to tackle some controversial topics such as gender equality.
Soliya dialogue in the Connect Program Compact was actually a very different experience than other types of online communication programs. It has a goal, which makes it different in a fairly good way. It’s also different because you are put in a room with people, supposedly, from around the world, and you have to start talking with them on different topics, which has its pros and cons. Its prose, in my opinion, is that it makes people around the world feel closer, opens the gates for brainstorming and exchanging ideas, and makes the world seem as if it is a small one because of the facility of the exchange of cultures and ideas. These points were really obvious in the Soliya experience. I made friends from the United States, Tunisia, and other parts of the world. We even still communicate until this moment. On the other hand, the cons of this platform, in my opinion, are similar to any other online communication platform. I think that people misuse these platforms in a way that easily connects them with people that live far away from them, but builds walls between them and people who they love and ruins their face-to-face, social life.
Some other experiences that I’ve learned from the Soliya experience, aside from knowing new people from all around the world as previously mentioned, is the fact that I’ve understood who I am more and what things I really like to engage in and what are things that bore me and make me feel uncomfortable when people are talking about to an extent that I would refrain from participating or sharing my opinion. I think I wouldn’t have understood who I really am if I didn’t go through this experience.
I think there are several ways that people can foster constructive communication both online and face-to-face interactions, one of which is exploring several platforms similar to Soliya where it is easier to interact with people of different backgrounds and opinions. But an important point is to make sure to balance between the digital and the face-to-face contact, not to fall into the trap of digital or literal isolation.
Finally, I believe that Soliya’s experience was a good one, yet needs some changes, for example, it needs to limit the part where people have to introduce themselves, which took four hours, and some changes similar to that. I wouldn’t recommend it to a friend, except if these changes were made.