Soliya ‘connects’ students worldwide

Posted on 14 November 2012 by admin

Members host Media Literacy Week event.

By: Joe Makoto
-Staff Writer-

Student Kaitlin Hayes answers a question during the Soliya Connect event while student Gretchen Daniels listens. The Honors World Literature class was a requirement to be accepted into the program. | PHOTO BY Joe Makoto

Soliya’s Connect Program, held an event at STLCC – Meramec’s library on Nov. 1 as part of the Gateway Media Literacy Partner’s annual Media Literacy Week. Attendees listened as four Meramec students participating in Soliya Connect spoke about what they have learned by participating and later video linked with a Soliya Connect facilitator in New York.

The Connect program is an online video conferencing program aimed at building dialogue between students from Western nations and students from predominantly Islamic nations.

“What’s fascinating about Soliya’s Connect Program is their media literacy interests,” said Meramec English professor Eric Meyer. “On the first page of their website, they mention the term media literacy twice.”

Student Deborah Caby said that she “has broadened her sources of news and has learned to question the information she is getting.”

“I don’t know if [the news report] is true or not, you don’t know those sources. You have to weigh that by getting to know people,” Caby said.

Soliya Connect has helped her do this by putting her in contact with people living in different cultures every week.

“I meet with 8 or 9 others every Wednesday morning for two hours,” Caby said.

She finds the respectful dialogue useful in developing a friendship, which Caby sees as leading to tolerance.

“When you develop a friendship, you tend to be more tolerant, so I think that’s what Soliya’s about,” said Caby.

Professor Meyer sees this development of cross cultural ties as integral to education, “Some of us see education as a process of getting students outside of themselves, of getting them out their own psychologies, out of their own communities, out of the provincialism that we sometimes hold too tightly…The Soliya Connect Program, along with media literacy, provides that opportunity for students to get outside of themselves, outside of their communities and families, outside of St. Louis,” Meyer said.

For Jessica Coonrod, a Meramec student participant, Soliya Connect has taught her to dig deeper into the history of the country being reported on.

“You can’t know [the truth] without knowing the background of the country you are hearing about, what’s really going on,” Coonrod said.

Part of the project for Soliya Connect is for students to create their own short video segment from longer video clips, giving them a glimpse at how TV news content is created.

“Because you have to approach the video from the perspective of creating the media it really makes you stop and think about media literacy, which helps you interpret what you read and what you see on TV. That is media literacy, interpreting what you’re given,” Coonrod said.

Professor Meyer sees this ability as valuable in a media saturated world.

“Media scholars remind us that we are living in the most mediated world ever. Any cultural information we share with each other or get from another part of the world, all of that is mediated in some way,” Meyer said.

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