I think one of the best things about this experience is that I was able to pull out of my shell.
Yesterday’s meeting was easier than the first one, people seemed more comfortable with each other. There were more people this time, we were a total of 10 from Tunisia, Jordan, Italy, US, Egypt (me). At first, we were put into smaller breakout rooms to discuss the week’s challenge. I was thankfully with people who had good connections, and who also were there during the first session. The conversation flowed easily, we first talked about the courses we took at university – I was a bit out of that discussion because I think both of them were studying things like international relations and/or psychology. We then moved to discuss the challenge. Something quite funny happened when one of us (from US) was discussing her challenge: she was talking about Oprah’s Golden Globes speech and she paused to ask, do you guys know Oprah? Me and my other friend who is from Tunisia, nodded. It was a funny moment though.
After that the topic of the conversation somehow shifted to social media and its effect on us and how information is more censored/biased on FB more than Twitter.
We were then asked to move back to the main room, where everyone was and to reflect about the things we discussed in our mini group. This was nice because I got to know what everyone’s interests were, and some people were having discussions about politics and discrimination (I wanted to get into that), so it was nice to see that people have these interests because this meant that they might be brought up during discussions at some point. After the round of reflections, the floor was left open to discussion about anything we wanted. And one of us brought up the issue of education.
I honestly didn’t think I’d rant so much about a topic. But I did. I spilled every horrible thing I’ve experienced while learning, and surprisingly there was a lot of agreement. We talked about students deciding their path in life from an early age, how that is dependent on the variety of subjects offered in school, college education expenses, public and private schools, private tuitions, unqualified teachers, outdated syllabuses, lack of resources.. It was very interesting to see that everywhere in the world, these issues prevailed, and not just in ME countries. It was a very diverse discussion because every person brought out the angle that was prominent where they lived, and a lot of times there was an agreement.
Overall, it was way easier this time even though it was a larger group. The conversations flowed and the facilitator was really happy she didn’t have to intervene a lot. I think also the people in the group are very understanding and open and this is what made it an enriching talk.
Next week’s challenge:
ON IDENTITY THREAT: Look at your social media feeds or the comment section of your favorite news site and look at a topic/discussion that is currently relevant to your country or community. Try to spot 2-3 examples of cases where you think someone feels that a part of their identity is threatened. Share those with the group in the group’s stream, and also tell us why you think those are examples of an identity threat. Next, think what would be your constructive response to the person: how can you approach them with curiosity and respect (even if you don’t agree with them)?
I think I’m going to need some help with this, as I would want an example to start with..