In summer 2020, Soliya launched First Year Connect, our pilot program bringing incoming first-year college students in the US together across silos and differences to build dialogue skills and relationships before the start of classes. Guided by trained facilitators, students discussed the impact of the pandemic on their lives, as well as issues related to identity, community, and current events. At a time when college students were instructed to physically isolate, we provided them with a virtual space for human connection and to engage over their lived experiences. We ran two rounds of the program between July and August, with each round including four two-hour sessions.
We partnered with two colleges to engage a total of 371 students in First Year Connect. 84% of students who attended the full program said that they were glad to have participated. Close to 90% of students resided in the United States at the time of participation, with others residing in China, Chile, Egypt, Japan, El Salvador, Nepal, the Netherlands, Brazil, Iran, Mexico, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Russia, Kenya, Vietnam, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, New Zealand, India, Honduras, and Gibraltar. Soliya will launch another round of the program in January 2021 with 600 students.
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