The Soliya Connect Program - 10 Years of Building Meaningful Connections

August 11, 2014

Soliya conducted its first ever Connect Program in the fall of 2003 with 5 universities. Since then, Soliya has steadily expanded the Connect Program and Facilitation Training Program each semester. With the completion of our 20th semester this fall, we have successfully reached over 4,500 students, in partnerships with 100 universities, and over 600 volunteers from around the globe.
Driven by the belief that in our increasingly inter-dependent world, it is necessary to shift the way our communities engage with differences - moving from confrontation to cooperation and compassion - Soliya aims to enable vastly more young people to have an in-depth and meaningful cross cultural experience as part of their education. Harnessing the tools of new media, we have established a scalable and high-impact virtual exchange program model for cross-cultural education that is very relevant to 21st century challenges and needs.
It is our ambition to continue to grow the Connect Program and Training opportunities to reach unprecedented numbers and diversity of young adults from Western and Muslim-majority societies, equipping them with the perspectives of global citizens and 21st century skills to engage with difference constructively.
Moreover, we have recently extended our work to support young adults to apply skills learned through virtual exchange toward addressing issues that are dividing their own societies and local communities. We are piloting the local Engagement Program in Egypt in 2014, and look forward to sharing lessons learned with you in future newsletters.
We are exceptionally proud of how far along we have come during the first decade of our organization, and we are deeply grateful for all the people that made our work successful, insightful and purely enjoyable! We look forward to the next 10 years, with all your support.
To close, I wanted to share these inspiring words from one of our students this fall semester:
"As a student at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, someone who has never left the country, someone who has never lived anywhere except Kentucky, and a white, middle-class, American male, the opportunities Soliya has afforded me for cultural immersion, for new friendship and for new perceptions of the world in which I live will serve me throughout the rest of my personal as well as political life."
- Jay Todd, Western Kentucky University
Salma Elbeblawi
Director of Programs

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