March 23, 2018
Last week, Waidehi Gokhale of Soliya and Jennifer Chen of World Learning joined the Stevens Initiative to present a webinar on on their organizations’ strategies for engaging alumni of virtual exchange programs. Jenn talked about involving alumni of the Digital Young Leaders Exchange Program (DYLEP) in subsequent rounds of the program, hosting online and in-person reunions, and encouraging virtual exchange alumni to apply to study abroad. Waidehi explained Soliya’s program to train students who went through the Connect Program to serve as facilitators, as well as other workshops and community events to help facilitators maintain and expand their skills.
A few insights stand out among the presenters’ many points:
- Jenn and her colleagues realized that the activities following the summer DYLEP program were as valuable as the official summer program itself. The alumni activities extend the experience and are now recognized to be a central part of the program model.
- Soliya relies largely on young adults who volunteer to facilitate the Connect Program. Facilitation training is not only a great opportunity for Connect Program alumni to build skills and earn distinction, but it also helps Soliya sustain its program and reinforce its style of online dialogue facilitation (which they presented in an earlier webinar).