A video dialogue program for young women in the USA and Muslim countries

What Is 12 Hours? 12 Hours of Dialogue is a series of ongoing videoconferences between young professional women from the United States and their contemporaries in the Muslim countries of North Africa and the Middle East. By spending a total of 12 hours on these discussions, and addressing 12 different topics, the program helps participants better understand how their counterparts view and address a combination of local, domestic and international issues. View videos of some conversations.

img_60391_1.jpgWhy Was 12 Hours Established?  12 Hours was established to start a dialogue between women in two parts of the world that are becoming inextricably linked, but where differences are often stressed over commonalities. Through the 12 Hours program, participants in both the United States and Muslim countries are able to participate in an international exchange without leaving their home towns, as well as gain an understanding of the others’ region that would not exist otherwise. Follow our blog.

Who Participates in the Program? Our current program includes students in New York City from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. In Tunisia, the program includes graduate students and teachers at the Higher Institute of Languages at the University of Gabes. In each location, approximately 8-10 young women take part in the conversation. Future programs will involve students and young professional women. Read bios of participants from Tunisia and New York.

img_6042_1.JPGWhat Do the Groups Discuss? Conversation topics range from personal issues such as family, traditions and social life to broader international topics such as globalization and environmental issues. Participants are given topics and a series of questions to consider in advance of each session. The goal of the conversations is to build on our common challenges and to give participants a strong appreciation for the ideas and viewpoints of other young women in the program. View all discussion topics.

What Technology Is Used? For the program between New York and Gabes, Tunisia, we used standard Polycom videoconferencing equipment with an ISDN line in Gabes and a T3 connection in New York. Other interactive video technology may be used for the program, including video chat software and other low-cost video technology. These technologies may be used with smaller groups or in locations without videoconferencing facilities. We will continue to explore a variety of technology options for the program.

img_00221_1.jpgWhat Do Participants Gain from the Program? Participants come away from the program with a better understanding of the culture, traditions and world outlook of their counterparts; they also complete the program with an immediate network of contacts in each others’ countries. And as the program expands, participants will be able to interact with future 12 Hours participants and expand their network to other parts of the United States and the Muslim world. Check out feedback.

What Are Next Steps for 12 Hours? After our initial successful programs, we are aiming to expand the program to other countries. Programs are being explored in countries such as Morocco, Jordan and Iran. Each new group will be paired with a group of American women of comparable age and experience. Contact us if you’re interested.