A video dialogue program for young women in the USA and Muslim countries
April 25th, 2007 at 8:43 am
Posted by Zia in Participant contributions

Just to clarify my previous post: it’s the students in Gabes themselves who have been filming the video clips for the site. A big thank you to all of you for taking the time to record your thoughts on the program!

April 23rd, 2007 at 9:08 pm
Posted by Zia in Participant contributions

Hajer, one of the two wonderful 12 Hours coordinators in Tunisia, had the great idea to ask the participants in Gabes to give their thoughts on on the program via video. I’ll be adding all of these video clips to the feedback section of the site (along with some written comments and thoughts from the US participants, as well).

I’ve posted a couple of video clips; stay tuned for more.

April 21st, 2007 at 8:24 pm
Posted by Zia in Sessions

Below is a summary of our final discussion on the topic of globalization. I’ve posted some videos from the conversation; the videos are always more powerful than simply reading about the conversation.

This will be the last write-up from our sessions, but over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some feedback and commentary from our participants. If anyone in the program – or reading the site – has thoughts on the program, please feel free to post your comments below or forward your thoughts along to any of our program leaders. And thanks to those of you who have already commented on prior posts.
Defining globalization. Perhaps the most interesting part of our final videoconference was that the participants had quite different interpretations of globalization. The participants in Gabes kicked off the conversation with a discussion of the impacts of globalization on youth in Tunisia. The discussion focused on globalization on a cultural and societal level; participants were concerned that young people in Tunisia were in such a hurry to emulate Western-style dress or to embrace Western music that they were losing their Tunisian roots. One of the participants indicated that by embracing Western values along with music and fashion, young people were starting to abandon some of the cultural and religious traditions in Tunisia. 
Globalization as an economic issue. In the US, by contrast, participants said that globalization was considered an economic issue, largely related to trade. Americans thought of globalization more in terms of the US losing global economic dominance to countries such as India and China. The concerns about globalization in the US were around labor standards and environmental regulations in other countries; there was not great concern about the US losing its cultural identity.
American cultural influence.  An interesting discussion about the influence on American culture around the world followed. One of the Tunisian participants pointed out that there was no counterbalance to US power; no other country offered the same influence on a global basis. The US participants said they found that surprising because many Americans felt the nation’s power globally was declining; the geopolitical situation over the past few years has made many people in the world look beyond the US to other countries. The American participants also pointed out that while the US may have a stronger influence on global culture than other countries, American culture itself was constantly in flux. Participants in New York discussed how many major cities in the US had become very international, and mentioned how immigrant groups such as the Latino population were starting to have a strong influence American culture.  The American participants felt this was a good thing since it was making American culture more diverse.
Loss of traditional society. The interesting part of the conversation was there was a certain fear of globalization in both places. In Tunisia, the fear was of losing cultural identity; in the US, the fear was of losing economic and political dominance. Both groups saw globalization posing a threat to traditional society.
In my opinion, the globalization discussion was one of the best of the entire program. We had different views on the topic, but were able to engage in a great conversation that enabled us to better understand the outlook and concerns of the other group. I think both groups of participants were genuinely interested in their counterparts’ concerns about – and approaches to – globalization. It was one of those conversations that could have gone on for hours but unfortunately had to finish after just one.
I hope participants will be encouraged by this final conversation to continue a dialogue via e-mail long after the program has concluded!

April 19th, 2007 at 9:50 am
Posted by Zia in Tunisia, Participant contributions

Fethia Harrouchi, one of our two fantastic coordinators in Gabes, forwarded along the following today for the site:

“Really it’s a pity that the program was over on 12 April, 2007. It was actually a terrific program during which female participants on both sides, Tunisia and America, exchanged different opinions while rising cultural and everyday aspects.
I would like to thank Zia Daniell Wigder for her collaboration, the big efforts she made to target the success of the program and the precious experience she provided us with.  
Many thanks to Mr. Karim Hamdy who granted us with the golden opportunity of knowing Zia, who enabled us to participate in the 12 Hours of Dialogue Project. I really appreciate his continuous efforts of finding up to date ideas and programs.  
Special thanks to Gabes University members: Mr. Mabrouk Montacer, Gabes University President, who welcomed and stimulated the program perpetually, Mr. Abderrazak Souai, International Relations Manager, who has never stopped  encouraging us, troubleshooting many difficulties and providing us with precious thoughts; and Miss Karima Khchini, the dynamic journalist, who usually has her mind set on opting for the greatest decisions, selecting the best ideas and issuing different articles.
Lots of thanks to the Director of the Higher Institute of Management, Mr Said Dhifallah, for his agreement on the program.
Distinct thanks to the very kind, helpful, outstanding technical engineer, Mr. Malek Zammouri, for assuming the responsibility of the technical system. He is really great and assiduous.
A bunch of thanks to Mr. Said Khalfalli, Higher Institute of Languages Secretary General, for his self-motivation and help.
Congratulations for Gabes participants for their fluency, helpfulness and patience. Thanks for leading the program to such a success. I wish them all the best.
Many thanks to the kind, cheerful New York participants who provide us with the nice occasion of communicating with them as English speakers.

Last but not least, I want to thank my colleague and program coordinator, Miss Hajer Ghaffari, for her assiduity and unceasing help.”

April 13th, 2007 at 7:54 am
Posted by Zia in Uncategorized

We had a terrific final session yesterday on the topic of globalization. I will continue to update the site - and will provide a write-up of our last session and video clips soon - but in the meantime, I wanted to thank those who made the program such a success.

Thanks to Hajer and Fethia for their hours of work in Gabes, and to Karim for introducing us. Thanks to Malek for troubleshooting all of our technology issues in Gabes, and to Don and his team for helping us out with the technology in New York. Thanks to our participants in Gabes and New York for their insightful comments, and for being so open to hearing others’ points of view. I think it’s been an incredible experience for everyone involved.