Hundreds of students from universities in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East are signed-up to Soliya Connect, a transformational programme which lets them speak with other students from around the world in seminar calls. Interacting with people they would never normally meet, there is discussion on the issues and beliefs that can often divide people – like conflict and politics in their home country. Recognising that in-person exchanges are expensive and often inaccessible to students with lower incomes, Soliya was founded on the belief that if every student had access to such a profound experience, we would all live in a more peaceful world.
Cross-cultural student exchanges give participants a better understanding of socio-political issues and why people may feel the way they do and hopes to encourage authentic and diverse views of expression “within the boundaries of a value system which is driven by a promise of non-violence; freedom of speech, empathy and tolerance.” There is also a drive to give people access to information and technology. The virtual exchange uses low-cost, readily available tech with social networking, gaming and new media tools like sharing personal videos.
The project’s CEO Waidehi Gokhale told us: “Change comes in unexpected ways. We hear about people changing their major after taking our programme, others join nonprofits or the public sector. Our long term impact lies in the change we bring to the students and the change they advocate in their communities.”
Soliya runs virtual exchanges in more than 100 universities across 28 countries.”Striving to build communities where diversity is embraced, the project is helping to create a new generation of young adults equipped with the understanding to take a constructive role in a more just and peaceful society.
Waidehi Gokhale, CEO
USA (New York)