Soliya Connect Program Final Reflection

Participating in the Soliya Connect Program has been an eye-opening and enriching experience for me. Through engaging in dialogue with individuals from diverse backgrounds, I’ve discovered aspects of myself that were previously hidden, leading to a deeper understanding of who I am. This opportunity to meet people from various cultures and hear their stories has broadened my perspective on the world, a familiar experience as I’ve previously engaged in cultural exchange meetings with Interact clubs in Tunis under the Rotary International organization.

One aspect that stands out to me is the importance of preparing questions to explore different viewpoints effectively. This has led me to know how to persuade others of facts they’re unaware of while respecting our differing perspectives. Understanding that my identity influences how I communicate with people from different cultures, I aim to improve my communication skills while helping others while doing so too, by engaging in dialogue or conversation, where we all feel excited to discuss new ideas and thoughts.

Reflecting on the weekly sessions, each one offered unique insights and experiences. In the first week, we discussed the topic of identity, discussing how it shapes us as individuals with different identities. Week 2 focused on culture, where I shared the vibrancy of Egyptian energy and learned firsthand about the realities of conflict from my peer friend Bashar. While discussing culture a peer friend discussed the ongoing war “Palestine x Israel” his name is Bashar and he’s living right next to Gaza. Bashar mentioned that they have lots of check points there and many more situations. Two situations that touched me a lot where when the Israeli soldiers killed a cat that was crossing the street for no reason, including Bashar’s cate. And the other was when he viewed his colleague friend while going to college when he got killed with a knife in his chest because only he’s an innocent person going to his college. He changed perspectives of people living in the US . This made me realize how only one person can make a difference only with expressing their feelings and discussing different topics as other people in different places are brain washed by their government. They even made Bashar and his friends pay almost a 100 dollars (400 with their currency) to pass a check point, not only this but also took his watch with his full convenience. Moving forward, week 3 provided opportunities for self-reflection on hobbies and interests, including an enjoyable drawing activity that sparked creativity.  We had a discussion on the weekly challenge on asking good questions, also we had an activity on Inner voice (What in the world?) and we had a free-flowing discussion on Hobbies and interests. I mentioned that I used to play basketball and that i’m looking forward to search for more hobbies and interests that I could find myself in. For example presenting and being a broadcaster. An activity I enjoyed the most in Soliya was the drawing activity we did in week 3. Our facilitator, Hassan, asked us all to grab a pen and a paper and start drawing something while only giving 3 characteristics of it, we all drew it as an elephant, and it turns out to be an anteater. Finally, in Week 4, we explored religion, leading to discussions and a deeper understanding of different faiths. In the last session, I felt it a lot. I understood more about other religions, as we have various people with different religions joining. One of my peer friends who’s born in Texas but settling in the US he 3 that anyone with any gender could marry any gender the opposite one. As we all started debating on this. Overall, I’ve learned invaluable lessons from Soliya’s program. Not only have I gained knowledge, but I’ve also had fun, engaged with diverse perspectives, and formed connections with individuals from around the world. Looking ahead, I’m eager to explore more opportunities with Soliya and potentially contribute as part of the Connect Team Program. I extend my sincere thanks to our facilitator Hassan and Dr. Maha Thank you for giving us the chance to be part of the Soliya program and speak up about our country and our selves as individuals since one person could make a differenca Bali from The American University in Cairo for making this experience possible.

Each interaction has strengthened my belief that one person can make a difference, and I’m grateful for the chance to be part of such a transformative program. At the end of today’s session, the fourth and the last session, our amazing facilitator Hassan asked us several questions. One was who did you learn the most from and several peer friends mention my name, it was very thoughtful and sweet of them.