Soliya Reflection Paper

Throughout the past month, I have been attending the Soliya conference weekly where people from different parts of the world gathered and communicated together through dialogues. During the Soliya sessions there was facilitator that helped lead the talk where there was approximately 10 to 12 participants. The Soliya experience was very special and interesting for me and unlike any other because it was actually very well organized the facilitators are very well trained to guide us through the dialogue and the platform itself of the exchange portal is very helpful with using the turns to take mics to speak is a brilliant idea. What was most regulating is the fact that we have to either take turns to speak or click on a button first; this option helped organize the session and giving each one the chance to speak without being interrupted since a conference with 10 to 12 participants can be disorganized if we all talk at the same time. At the beginning of each session, the facilitator began by letting each one of the participants take about the weekly challenge which was a general topic, for instance about what a dialogue is. In the middle of the conversation, each one of us would share about themselves.

During the Soliya sessions, each one of us shared their opinion, beliefs and experiences about certain topics suggested by the facilitator. This helped me be open to listen to different opinions and beliefs that do not complement my culture and mindset. Due to this, I realized that each one of us came from different backgrounds, culture and experiences, therefore discussing one topic can have completely different outcomes of ideas and perception. One of the examples I will never forget is one time the facilitator suggested to discuss any topic that we choose of our own so one of my colleagues brought up the topic of the war in Gaza and Palestine in general and as we were discussing this with the rest of the group, I realized we all had completely different perceptions of what is happening. Almost 75 percent of the group were hearing about the war over there in Palestine for the first time in their lives also as expected the ones who already knew about such topic were the ones who came from an Arab family origins which was interesting from my point of view. I personally found it very interesting and nourishing to hear people from different backgrounds speaking about the same topic and expressing how they perceive it and their opinion about it. Additionally, most of the topics we discussed were very interesting and each one of the participants added to me.

Most of the Soliya sessions, I found myself speaking, sharing and freely expressing my opinion without having to worry about being judged or misunderstood. The first reason behind that was that I knew that I won’t have to see the participants again afterwards, so I felt free to say whatever I want. The second reason is because none of the participants knew me or had any background information about me, therefore they won’t interpret things accordingly. Thus, after a month of attending the Soliya sessions, I realized I am able to express my opinion and talk freely in the digital world than in real life. However, I kept trying to imagine this conference in real life and it made me feel that we would have communicated things much more easily and in much less time.

In order to foster communication in face to face and online modes, I think that it needs proper marketing for its advantages and its benefits. If people get to be aware of such programs and their effect on the participants i think many would love to participate. I think people tend to be stuck in their own culture, opinion and mindset because they are not exposed enough to different ones. So, it would be very educating and nourishing to encourage people to participate in the Soliya sessions or similar programs in order to accommodate different opinions and experiences from people with different backgrounds.

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