To reflect on my experience in this program I will answer the following prompt questions:
Question 1: How does the dialogue in Connect Express differ from other types of online communication you are familiar with? Why is it different?
The dialogue in Connect Express differed so much from the regular communication I am familiar with. Normally, I have conversations with people of my culture; all of my friends and people I interact with daily are Egyptians. Even though we have differences, our similarities outweigh these differences; we have the same holidays, we live in the same place, know the same people, speak the same language, share the same history, eat the same food and somehow share the same ideals. This program was different in the sense that every person came from a different culture so this allowed diversity in belief systems, religions, backgrounds, places, history, food, education, life experiences, age, gender, race and more things. The differences in this case outweighed the similarities between us, and this is what made the experience significant. I was exposed to all of these differences, and learned to become more understanding, more accepting, more empathetic and more educated.
Question 2: What did you learn about the type of communicator you are in the digital world? (As a media consumer, content producer, or sharer of content).
I learned that I don’t really communicate online, I don’t use my account publicly to reach out and have a conversation with people I don’t know, unlike others in my group. I have a private account and I only share things with my close friends, and since all of us share the same belief system, our opinions are not really that different so I am was not exposed to people who think differently than me.
We talked about a lot of controversial topics in my group, like whether women should be allowed to get abortions and whether the death penalty should be implemented for criminals. This encouraged me to try to reach out to people online through the different social media platforms I have and engage with them and have discussions with them on topics similar to these ones to understand how the different backgrounds shape who you are as a person and whether the differences between us will not allow us to be friends and whether we can find a greater fundamental belief that we both connect to and build our friendship from there.
Question 3: What can you do to foster constructive communication both online and in face-to-face interactions?
I think it is important to be respectful, because no communication can be constructive if it is not built on the foundation of mutual respect. If someone is not being respectful to me even when I am to them, then I would immediately end the conversation. It is also important to keep an open mind and think about the words I use, as I might accidentally say something that will offend someone, even if I don’t intend it this way, it is important to consider the other person’s point of view and background first to be able to choose my words carefully, especially in cross-cultural discussions.
Furthermore, I believe it is important for me to listen to others and not be judgmental; to acknowledge that we are different, and that there is no correct point of view. I will only be able to learn from others if I am empathetic and trying to put myself in their shoes to understand them.