Going through the Soliya program has been such an interesting communicating and learning tool to experience. Just from my first session I was surprised by the number of different cultures that were present in just one group. There was something special about having a diverse number of people being present to talk about a variety of topics while bringing their own identity and perspective to the table.
The dialogue in the connect express was completely different from the other types of online communications that I’m familiar with. Most of my online communication consists of text or audio communication and usually most of the people that are in my communication circle consist of people who share a lot of similarities like me including culture, language and background. Whereas on the connect express the communication was through video and audio, involved people from different countries like Italy, Finland, Vietnam, palestine and Germany. It was also different in terms of how it was structured in an organized way, for example, I found the talk button to be extremely helpful in terms of allowing each person to talk freely and voice their opinion without being interrupted by someone else which was something that hadn’t come across in other communication tools.
Throughout the sessions I found that a different side of me was coming out as a communicator. I’m usually a very good listener and I enjoy listening to other people’s opinions and perspectives but I usually find it a bit hard to speak out about my own ideas and opinions. During the seasons that wasn’t the case, I found myself to be both listening and participating in the conversation. I feel like i was encouraged to do so for several reasons including: I always felt like I had something to add to each topic because of my different background, my group were almost all very shy in the beginning so that made me feel less nervous about speaking and also the fact that there were many opportunities to have a free flowing discussion which made it all the more engaging.
I believe that one of the best ways to foster constructive communication both online and face to face is to simply practice. I say this because there was definitely a shift from who I was as a communicator from the first session until it progressed to the last session even if it was only for the three sessions i attended. There was definitely a development of my own intercultural maturity specifically from an interpersonal level where I felt that it had become mature since I was eventually able to engage confidently with a diverse group while being able to keep into consideration the differences that each individual held.
Overall the entire experience added more value to my knowledge with all the different topics that were discussed. Topics that included how each individual identified with their culture and the stereotypes and biases that existed towards their group, different responses from each person regarding how freedom of speech is represented in their countries and even simple and light topics talking about how people overcome difficult situations in their lives all were extremely informative and insightful for me. At the end of it all, I found it beautiful that at the core of each discussion there were always more similarities than differences in all of our perspectives.