Highlighting our Soliya VolunteersMarch 15, 2014
Interviews with Soliya Volunteers
Soliya’s volunteers have been a crucial part of our organization since our founding. We recently reached out to some of our old and new volunteers to hear about what their experience with Soliya has been like and what they value and find interesting about being a Soliya volunteer. Here are a few sample replies, and please click here to read the full article:
What do you think is the importance of being a Soliya volunteer today?
It seems that Soliya is really on the cutting edge of using technology to help promote cross-cultural dialogue, and I can see in my other work (as a professor) how important it is for students to develop these technological skills in conflict resolution practice as well as other practical skills in dialogue facilitation, etc. Soliya is an environment where as a volunteer you can do all of this!
How has being a Soliya volunteer enhanced your life?
Personally Soliya helped me to be independent person. It helped me to identify what I want in this life. It helped me to identify other cultures and get in touch with people. It helped me to know how to defend my own believes objectively.
In what other professional contexts have your facilitation skills been useful?
At my work where I am dealing with colleagues from different international backgrounds. I also used my facilitation skills at my work through interviewing asylum-seekers who come from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds.
What has been one of your most rewarding moments as a Soliya volunteer?
I leave each Soliya session feeling really energized – even if it’s only 7:30 am when it wraps up. To me, that sense of energy and dynamism is indicative of the small, but mighty shifts that take place during each session. These shifts come in all shapes and sizes – deeply personal moments, challenging moments, and totally funny moments, where the group is caught up in laughter – but they all feel genuinely human, and their cumulative effect is truly rewarding, not only for me as a facilitator, but for the cohesiveness of the group, the strength of the friendships that are built, and the sense of responsibility and agency that each participant carries forward into their lives outside of Soliya.
We also interviewed two of our Facilitation Training participants: Amira Salama - English Instructor at the English Language Resource Center at Al Azhar University in Egypt, Connect Program alumna and Soliya Facilitator - and David Ross - professional mediator, Columbia Law School professor, and teacher. Click here to see to why Amira wanted to become a Soliya facilitator and click here to see how Soliya’s Facilitation Training enhanced David’s self-awareness, listening, engagement and alternative dispute resolution skills. You can also view David sharing his thoughts on the importance of diversity and the inclusion of different perspectives and approaches by clicking here.
Soliya volunteers have also been making headlines around the world!
Zeina Saab - Lebanon
Zeina Saab, Founder of The Nawaya Network http://www.nawaya.org, won the 2013 King Abdullah Award at the World Economic Forum (click here to read the full article) held at the Dead Sea in Jordan. The Nawaya Network is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that helps disadvantaged youth in the Arab world to reach their full potential through a mentorship program that provides them with both mentors and resources.
Qaisar Roonjha - Pakistan
Qaisar Roonjha’s Welfare Association For New Generation (WANG) celebrated the Universal Day of Children by organizing its annual Baby Show. This year’s theme was ''Every Child is Peace Maker'' and the event program brought together 600 students, parents, educators, religious scholars, civil society and government representatives. Click here to see photos of the event.
Leena Al Olaimy – Bahrain
Leena Al Olaimy was appointed to the Board of Trustees (click here to read the full article) of the Bahrain Foundation for Reconciliation and Civil Discourse (BFRCD), a non-political society seeking to foster greater social cohesion and harmony between Bahrain's communities. In 2013, Leena was also listed in Business in Gulf's Most Influential Bahraini Women.
Sharara Attai – Australia
Sharara Attai wrote this piece for The Guardian about a potential change in law in Australia that would be both cruel on refugees and heart-wrenching for her. Sharara herself was a refugee and is now helping asylum seekers as a refugee lawyer. Her effort was rewarded a few days later when the proposed law was disallowed in the Australian Senate (click here to read the full article).