Soliya: Meeting 1

So I just finished the first Soliya meeting and it was so nice! I must admit that I had some fears prior to this as I’m really camera shy. I was even hesitant about keeping my camera on or not during the session but decided that it would be better to leave it on.

I was online with someone else at first and we had a mini conversation before the facilitator joined us. More people started appearing and we eventually reached a total of 5 people + facilitator. We started by warming up about ourselves, our major and hobbies and what we generally do. The facilitator let the conversation flow in the beginning and we talked about jobs, part time jobs, food, places we wanted to visit and so on..

We then moved to talking about dialogue, debate and discussions and what we think makes each of them different than the other. There was a general agreement that a dialogue is more mild and accepting than a debate which usually involves people with different inclinations. Then we talked about successful dialogues, and I mentioned some of the things we had talked about earlier in class. Others brought up words that we also talked about in class like openness and not being shy. How we could contribute to making a successful dialog had people saying that they won’t make any judgments and won’t stereotype. This part of the session was generally easy and familiar, and was related to class discussion and the activity that we did a couple of days ago.

Then we did the identity activity which was also familiar (yay me), and funny enough that every time I do this, I come up with a different list. We all shared our lists and I found a lot of common points with others in the group. I noticed that the Arabs, mentioned in their identity something about the nationality or country, while non Arabs made little mention of that. 2 of us mentioned their religion, which also happened to be Muslim. I find this to be interesting because of a discussion we once had in class, about wanting to highlight certain aspects of our personality in certain contexts. Some minority groups tend to highlight what makes them a minority. And this prevailed in the session. We discussed common points and talked about how these aspects of our identity can influence how we approach subjects in general. Like I had written that I was a revolutionist, and I was asked that having said that, how would the approach to political topics be.. I honestly wasn’t sure how to respond, but I thought that having a very deep rooted belief in 2011 revolution in Egypt, influences my political thoughts to this day, and I think whenever the topic of politics in the ME or Egypt is brought up, I will continue to portray it from a revolutionary perspective.

Lastly, we reflected on the session in general and mentioned the topics we’d be interested to talk about.. Some said religion, some said the effect of media, I said culture and traditions..

Generally speaking, this was way way easier than I thought it would be. The environment is generally welcoming and the facilitator is warm. I think not everyone was able to make it, and a lot of people had tech issues, but I feel like the overall flow was smooth and interesting. The group dynamics is nice and we didn’t have a lot of awkward silences. I think two hours is a little too much though, I was fidgeting towards the end. I was hoping there would be a sort of break in the middle, but I reckon it’s like that because it’s a compact course.

Next week’s challenge is:
Think about a topic that you are passionate about – really, really passionate about or interested in! Look at your social media feeds or favorite news site: do you see anything (posts, news, videos, blogs, images, etc.) related to your passion that causes an emotional reaction in you? The reaction can be either positive or negative, making you very happy or angry.

Thinking about the Lina Mounzer article… Not sure yet though..

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