This blog post will highlight moments and assignments that have influenced me throughout this course.
First of all, it is important to clarify that registering for this course was mandatory, given that it is a Global Studies requirement. Therefore, before the semester started I didn’t really think that any of the assignments, projects and interactions would influence me at all. However, little did I know that my experience throughout the semester was the complete opposite and my thoughts/routines changed a lot, due to the numerous and distinctive interactions and assignments I was confronted with.
Now I know the real meaning of an ‘Intercultural Community’ and I have acknowledged that there is a greater idea behind this concept, rather than ‘people from different cultures’. In other words, there are people who have similar backgrounds, however, have entirely different routines, traditions and perspectives. I believe that this was the main emphasize of this course: Being able to express yourself, freely and confronting any barriers. What I liked the most about this class are the discussions, because they were very flexible and all classmates were respectful and understanding towards one another. In opposition to other courses, I can barely speak up knowing that people won’t always understand and will be very critical, therefore, sometimes it is better to just stay quite. Having the space to talk about how I feel even if it is a sensitive social/political/personal topic was a very fulfilling feeling. Additionally, any other course obligates the student to participate. Whereas, throughout the discussions in this course students willingly participated because we were able to relate to the topics being discussed and share our experiences with each other.
Furthermore, the flexibility of the assignments were also very helpful, because it motivated me to think outside the box and in more creative ways. For example, blog posts are ‘informal’ in comparison to Turnitin or Blackboard, however, I believe it has a greater impact, because it gives more space for the student to discuss the assignment without having to think of plagiarism, because there are no external resources being used to begin with. Hence, everything that is written is a reflection regarding the assignment or activity. This way, we were able to complete the assignment, while thinking about its pros/cons in depth.
Throughout this learning process, I was also able to focus more on the quality of the work, in opposition to the outcome of the grade. Therefore, I was actually able to think mindfully, without having to deal with the stress of grades, and thinking about how to ‘perfect’ the assignment, which automatically narrows down my spectrum of thought.
Finally, the overall outcome of this course influenced me because all the assignments were based on my honest thoughts and perspectives and how I can or cannot integrate them within distinctive cultures.
1. In order to adequately communicate virtually, one must be digitally literate. In my opinion an important factor that contributes to digital literacy is being able to communicate respectfully and knowing how to send your message across (because sometimes face-to-face situations are easier for many people) and using digital literacy to create an intercultural environment, both within and outside the individual’s geographic boarders.
The reason I think communication and digital literacy are significant is because I personally experienced this throughout the Soliya Connect Program, where I was able to clearly differentiate between face-to-face meetings, in comparison to virtual ones. Additionally, I was able to understand the complexity of demonstrating your perspective, to a person I only know device.
Therefore, although this was a challenging experience, however, I was able to comprehend the importance of digital literacies even in the most simple situations, e-mailing colleges/facilitators to discuss an assignment, being able to read an article online and discuss it throughout the session, even being able to minimize my technological issues is considered as a way of applying my digital knowledge. I believe that being able to communicate digitally and use this opportunity as a major advantage to get to know other people and other cultures while consuming a minimal amount of time, was exciting to go through.
Moreover, apart from the importance of communication through digital literacies, there is also the Cultural and Cognitive side to it:
The cultural approach focuses on being able to use and apply one’s knowledge through different digital platforms and understanding the different use of technology and when to use it. This is significant because one can use this as an opportunity to raise awareness regarding a particular topic and as a result would also help the community as a whole. This can be put into good use, especially in Egypt, because the distinctive purposes of digital outlets aren’t really emphasized.
Secondly, the cognitive approach is also important, because I usually use certain tools, therefore, I end up feeling very comfortable and avoid understanding the ‘know how’s’ of other tools or even using them. This is crucial because one must always be aware of the new innovate tools and how to use them, or else in the future, it’ll be more difficult to learn about them.
2. The in-class activity that helped me learn about the digital literacies and the important factors of it is: ‘Exploring Digital Literacies Activity’. Mainly because it consisted of many requirements and in depth research regarding Digital Literacies. Therefore, I was able to have a greater understanding about the topic and about myself too, due to the activity which determines my strength and weaknesses. This helped highlight the important factors that I should work on. Additionally, all assignments throughout this course depended on technological devices, thus, I was able to work on my weaknesses throughout the course.
‘Throughout this course I hope to particularly develop my communication and collaboration skills through different class activities and of course Soliya. My aim is to enhance my digital skills in general and hopefully become more comfortable and confident while interacting with other individuals virtually.’
I wrote this two months ago when I was working on the activity. Now I can see that I have actually developed my weaknesses and worked on them. I was happy to realize that getting out of my comfort zone influenced me positively.
Lastly, this assignment required lots of research -some credible and others not so much- therefore, I was confronted with different perspectives and I had a greater understanding towards the topic itself.
Second of all, another assignment that I found very challenging but was so eager to improve, was the Narrative Game. When I started working on this assignment, I put so many restrictions for myself, that it was less creative and basically boring. Thankfully, my classmates were able to critique it and we talked about the pros/cons together, this way I was able to actually accept different ideas instead of being narrow minded. In addition to this, I decided to stop thinking about this as an ‘assignment’ and instead actually thought of how this game can positively impact someone if I were able to raise awareness towards a mass audience. Hence, this connects to the activity I’ve stated above because I was able to work on the cultural approach by raising awareness and the cognitive approach through understanding how to develop a game digitally and lastly, communicative approach focused on how to send the message of the game across to the player, through a digital context.
3. One thing that can be added to enhance the digital literacy experience, is to work more on assignments that are not required in other classes. For example, creating a podcast was a very different assignment that helped me think creatively, in comparison to focusing on the fact that it is an assignment. Therefore, assignments such as videos, podcasts, taking pictures instead of writing a report are all assignments that focus more on the concept of digital literacies and creativity.
1. Intercultural Learning is an essential factor in one’s life, as it gives the individual a different outlook on life. Intercultural learning is significant because it neglects the ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ Ideology and instead unites all. Also, when talking with people from different cultures, you start comprehending that we are more or less all the same.
Therefore, the most important aspects are communication and culture:
Communication is of course very important, because one must learn to communicate respectfully and comprehend that the other person has different ideologies, thus, one must be mindful when sending a message across.
This brings me to my second point, culture. All of us have different perspectives and ideologies, even if people have similar or the same backgrounds. However, when talking with someone from a different culture – one that you might not know anything about – it is important to be very respectful and understanding and to actually put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
2. The main project that influenced Intercultural learning throughout the semester is of course Soliya. All readings, sessions and questions revolved around interacting and communicating with people from different perspectives or cultures. This was very interesting because I’ve noticed that so many foreigners were very interested to know about the Arab culture and it was nice to explain an honest perspective, that confronts any mediated barriers. This was a very fulfilling feeling, to be able to actually state your perspective, be honest and most importantly, breaking stereotypes!
An activity that helped me think of other people, where I actually put myself in the other persons place, was the in-class activity, where we were all spontaneously given different roles – that we didn’t choose – and we had to adapt to life’s circumstances by taking a step forward or backwards. This really helped me think of the situation through a different lens, instead of a theoretical one, by just saying ‘I want to help someone’. Personally, this was by far my favorite in-class activity because it was different than just reading an article online or hearing a story.
3. One thing that I would change about my Intercultural experience, refers back to the Soliya sessions. All sessions were more or less arranged topics. This was something that I did not really enjoy because most people only replied because they had to not because they wanted to. Therefore, if the conversations were more free and members just asked each other questions that we are actually curious about, the conversations would be more genuine and honest.
1. I think the most significant aspect of Global Citizenship is actually thinking through a global perspective. In other words, limiting cultural/national interference to come between all people. Nowadays, it almost seems impossible to be human and surprisingly it is more common to see people practice inhumane acts. Therefore, we limit people and discourage them based on their backgrounds/nationalities. Lastly, this is why I believe global citizenship’s most important aspect is to bring people together and leave a sense of unity.
2. An assignment that influenced me, was the TED Talk: ‘The Danger Of A Single Story’. It is extremely inspiring, not only the topic that she discussed, but how she discussed it. Also, seeing that someone has gone through a lot but was still able to rise, just proves how strong she is, it demonstrates nothing less than complete strength. She also highlighted a topic that I discussed earlier, which is categorizing people and thinking that you ‘know’ them, only because you ‘know’ about his/her culture or have heard of it. I was happy to see that regardless of any problems she has been through, she was able to deal with everything ans actually have the chance to speak up.
3. One thing that would be very exciting to try, is if all students (from the beginning of the semester) were given a role – that is far from their reality – and they would have to reflect on assignments/projects as if they were that person in reality. This would help the student actually feel the importance of Global Citizenship, because he/she would practice this for 4 months.