CONF students' success in the Soliya Connect Program

Published on 26.03.2014 22:05

The Soliya Connect Program is a cross-cultural education program that directly connects university students in the US, Europe and predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East, using the latest online videoconferencing, collaboration and media production technology. Participating students from these institutions “meet” weekly on-line throughout the course of a semester in small multi-national groups with 2 skilled facilitators via a web-based video-conferencing application.  Students engage in intensive discussion about the relationship between the “West” and the Arab & Muslim World, develop a deeper understanding for alternate perspectives and build knowledge about relevant issues.  Students also create short videos


Ten students from Dr. Çelik’s course participated in the Connect Program in the Fall 2007.   They were- to a person- thoughtful and articulate.  They consistently took leadership in their online discussion groups, pushing the conversation to a deeper level.  Turkey’s unique position at the cross-roads of “West” and “East” allowed the students to be particularly effective in helping translate comments made by Easterners to those in the West, and vice versa. 


While participating in the Connect Program students had the opportunity to write a proposal for a collaborative action project which aims to improve the relationship between the “West” and the “Arab & Muslim World”.  Soliya selected a number of these projects to present to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (AoC) Youth Solidarity Fund.  Projects selected by the Youth Solidarity Fund have the potential to receive grants of up to $20,000 in support of their project.  A project co-authored by a Sabanci student has been selected as one of the projects that Soliya will present to the AoC.  It’s a very competitive process, and there are no guarantees that the project will be selected by the UN, but even being selected by Soliya is a tribute to the quality of the idea and our belief in the students’ ability to implement an impactful program.


In addition, three Sabanci students are now participating in Soliya’s Facilitation Training program. This semester-long program trains students to serve as online facilitators, as well as providing them with a variety of transferable conflict resolution and facilitation skills.  They are again taking leadership roles in the training groups, asking thoughtful questions and providing their peers with useful feedback.  While the training has only been running for a few weeks, Soliya trainers are already confident that all three Sabanci students have the potential to be excellent facilitators, and will be amongst those invited to facilitate for Soliya in the fall.

Liza Chambers
Soliya Connect Program Director