Yale International Alliance Common Rooms

If you would like to join one of our current Common Rooms, listed below, we are happy to check for space. Please contact us. New Common Rooms will start in the fall. Request to join our mailing list to receive the latest updates. 

Connecting Yalies Around the Globe in Small Groups

What happens when a Yalie from Europe, the U.S., Africa, Latin America, Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East walk into a virtual room?  We expect creativity, insight, and inspiring conversation.

Join us in a YIA Common Room, an initiative for Yale alumni who are interested in the world and its citizens. The next set of Common Rooms is coming in March. Your small group of eight to 10 alums will reflect different geographic areas of the world. You will meet online for 40 minutes twice a month for three months to create new relationships with far-flung fellow Yalies, discuss perspectives, further cross-cultural understanding, and continue that conversation you were having in your Common Room at Yale. 

Many of our Common Rooms are hosted by alums passionate about discussing a particular topic. Choose from Global Health or Geopolitics, Favorite Museums or Spies and Modern Spycraft, and many others. You can read about the topics being offered by visiting the "What topics will be discussed?" section of our FAQs.

The Yale International Alliance, the YAA shared interest group for internationally minded alumni, connects alumni via Zoom small groups to celebrate the international experience of our alumni body. From the pandemic to our personal aspirations, we expect conversations to range widely as you get to know your own international group of Yalies.

Small groups are a relaxed environment that encourages discussion and creates enduring relationships. Like our conversations in Yale dining halls and common rooms, we expect them to range from the serious and the cultural to the light-hearted and humorous!

During the first session of a new Common Room, the small groups will participate in a “Telling Your Story” workshop to introduce yourselves and share your international experiences and passions. 

After that, the small groups shape their discussions to their own interests. Every YIA Common Room is unique, unique, but we know your discussions will take you in unexpected directions.

Join us! Fill out the YIA Common Rooms online survey by March 3 to participate.


Frequently Asked Questions

Info Accordions

YIA Common Rooms will meet twice a month on Zoom for 40 minutes, with the role of ‘host’ rotating among participants. You do not need a paid Zoom account to participate.

The Yale International Alliance will allocate you to your group by a match-making process based on your time zone, geography and availability. So, an early riser in Seattle might be joining a Common Room that includes an alum who’s just finished work in Dubai, and a night owl living in Tokyo. Clink on our link below for the “New Haven time” of each of our Common Rooms.

Current Common Room members can remain in their Common Room if it is continuing or they can move to a new one. In either case, please mark your preferred time in the form below. If you are joining the program now and there is not yet a fit for your time zone, you will be at the top of the list for the next cycle of Common Rooms.

We will provide your group with expert tips and subject prompts to get the conversation going, but ultimately each Common Room will determine the content of the discussions, and choose how thought-provoking, inspiring, or simply entertaining they want their Common Room to be. Members of some Common Rooms may decide to join together to create some impact in the world around them.

The list of potential themes and discussion prompts for the general Common Rooms will be wide-ranging and relevant to global citizenship. In the first session, the Common Room members can introduce themselves and, in later sessions, consider the kinds of topics they would like to discuss. This will ensure that all group members have their interests represented, but that they will also explore new ideas.

The discussion in our themed Common Rooms will reflect group members’ interests and knowledge. Join one of the following:

General Conversation Common Rooms

*All New Haven time (Eastern Time)

*All biweekly unless noted otherwise

*Starting week of March 10 unless otherwise noted


9 a.m. with Vittoria Tagliabue (starting March 26)


9 a.m. with Hetty Nerod

9:30 a.m. with Kyle Wang

10 a.m. with Mary Ellen Leuver


8 a.m. with Miranda Melcher

9 a.m. with Gary Barrett

4 p.m. with Fabian Farkas


Themed Common Rooms

*All New Haven time (Eastern Time)

*All biweekly unless noted otherwise

*Starting week of March 15 unless otherwise noted


9 a.m. with Elissa Levy
K-12 Education Around the World

We discuss the most pressing issues when it comes to formally educating the next generation of our world - and we brainstorm ways to make a difference in education both in the U.S. and abroad.

9 a.m. with Edith Terry
Asia rising

Focus on the Asian economy, geopolitics, how both affect ethnic Asian communities worldwide, and Asian culture broadly, from food to antiquities

9 a.m. with Saleem Ali
Environmental Science/Sustainability (starting April 2)

7 p.m. with Laura Brennan
Spies and Modern Spycraft

Modern spycraft involves technology beyond Q's wildest dreams. As countries come to rely on tech to gather information, is there still a role for traditional spycraft? Or, paradoxically, is human connection more important than ever when almost any tech can be hacked? This group is for enthusiastic amateurs to discuss spycraft, share book and podcast recommendations, and offer their own hypotheses on the future of intelligence gathering.

7 p.m. with Claudia Portogallo
Classical receptions around the world

Based on Emily Greenwood's introduction of the term "omni-local classical receptions" this common room explores the various meanings texts from the Ancient Mediterranean take on today in locations worldwide. The common room is an open invitation for every participant to share their reading experiences with ancient texts and local modern adaptations of ancient texts with the group. It is an open-ended exploration of the question of how and why ancient texts still speak to us today. As a group, we will explore whether we see patterns, differences, or radical discontinuities in teaching, reading, contact and modes of adaptation. Introductory reading: Emily Greenwood, Afterword: Omni-Local Classical Receptions, Classical Receptions Journal, Volume 5, Issue 3, December 2013, Pages 354–361, https://doi.org/10.1093/crj/clt025


9 a.m. with Vittoria Tagliabue

Interested in what is going on in the world and would like to connect the dots? Join the conversation, share perspectives with alumni from all over the world, and, if you like, suggest new topics for discussion! The last cycle included the role of different value systems in geopolitics, China in the international landscape, and energy transition. Materials will be shared in advance as a starting point for the conversation. Warning: enriching and inspiring meetings ahead!

9 a.m. with Rozina Mistry
Global Health-Opportunities and Challenges

The trend towards globalization started in the 1940s, but caught its momentum in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The Millennium and Sustainable Development goals are two strong global agreements that have steered countries towards a common vision of the global health under the rubric of WHO. Ironically, however, most of the inquiry was not led by the LMICs and therefore their perspective seemed to have been lacking.  These weaknesses in the WHO global leadership and governance did not come into focus until the Zika virus and recently during the COVID19 pandemic. Nearly 4 million deaths to date worldwide are attributable to the failure of the WHO in its surveillance role in spite of the fact that since July 2003, when SARS-CoV transmission was declared, an active global surveillance for SARS-CoV disease has been in place. The world response to the pandemic with reference to vaccine production and inequitable distribution has further unravelled these weaknesses in the global governance. Countries are no longer being led under one governance and are finding it difficult to impose strict measures recommended for COVID-19 Control. Hence, countries are forced to take their own measures to contain the spread. Alongside WHO guidance notes, CDC, USA, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and countries’ own CDCs are emerging as independent, powerful and reliable source of information and advice regarding the control measure. People in the middle and low income countries feel alienated as most of the recommendations are not relevant and feasible in their context, frequent hand washing where water is not available, use of sanitizers in countries where affordability and availability is an issue, use of telemedicine where technology and health literacy are key issues, and mandatory screening when availability of RDT and PCR is an issue.  This forum is aimed at generating a discussion around experiences of various regions regarding global governance and to gauge their perceptions and to discuss underlying issues and challenges of global public health issues.

9 a.m. with Esther Zirbel
Coaching Roundtable

Over the past 25 years coaching has become a rapidly growing profession. This roundtable offers Yale alumni an opportunity to connect with colleagues around the world to exchange ideas on coaching. Through building a community and discussing current issues, we will be able to learn from each other and grow as coaches. 

9 a.m. with Megan Tan
Interdisciplinary Futures

For those seeking to create a path rather than follow one - Lo! Fellow rebels! This Common Room hopes to be a safe space in which disciplinary nomads and adventurers could share desires, anxieties, questions, experience, and resources for each other. May we be stronger in crossing paths. 

9 a.m. with Pamela Russell
Favorite Museums

Participants would each present, very informally, some info on their favorite museum, whether from childhood or from the present; whether world renowned or little known, whether in a foreign location or in their own town

9 a.m. with Elias Shoniyin
Global Power Shift

According to many reputed policymakers, experts, and institutions, including the Centre for Economics and Business Research, the Chinese economy will overtake the United States by the turn of this decade; notwithstanding, the US military capability would remain the dominant force globally. Historically, rising powers have tended to disrupt international orders, causing wars, for example: the rise of Dutch Republic, France, Germany, etc. In each situation, dominant status quo powers try to defend systems that are mostly built by them and which benefit them, while new rising powers try to change the system to benefit their interests. This observation led AFK Organski and Jacek Kugler to argue in The War Ledger (1980): Substantial shifts in economic power and therefore military capabilities cause international conflicts. “The faster the challenger overtakes the dominant nation, the greater the chances the two will fight.”  

9:30 a.m. with Kyle Wang
U.S. Sino-Relations

We examine the U.S.-China Relations starting from their historical and cultural context to the status of bilateral tension today, helping us conduct our comparative study on the two highly different societal systems and their impacting on the world order in the 21st century.  We bring out multilateral views on the role of media, domestic politics, religion, education system and economic development in both countries.

10 a.m. with Mary Ellen Leuver
Epidemics in America

From smallpox to polio and cholera to COVID, epidemics have transformed how Americans have socialized, worked, and lived in each generation. Hosted by an alumna who has taught bioethics and the course Epidemics in America to Yale College and medical students, we will meet Sundays to explore and discuss how epidemics have shaped the fabric of our lives throughout American history and today.

7 p.m. with Andrea Loayza
Latin America

Opening up discussion topics about the Latin America region and its culture broadly. Recent discussions have been about the Panama Canal, origins of Mexican nationalism and the recent migration to the USA. 

7 p.m. with Inbal Megiddo

An opportunity to get together and discuss issues in music. This space is for people in the industry, professionals and music lovers of all genres. 


6 p.m. with Philip Raphals
Energy and Environment

Sustainable development issues for the energy sector, in a climate constrained world


9 a.m. with Gavin Bingham
Consciousness and Identity

Participants are invited to a profoundly whimsical (or will it be a whimsically profound?) conversation of two of the more intriguing concepts of our time. They are asked to bring a dollop of curiosity and a smidgeon of insight in whatever proportions they please.

9 a.m. with Caroline Piselli
Healthcare Issues and Opportunities

Life’s opportunities are infinite despite global healthcare challenges!  The group will discuss COVID and other topics of interest with a proposed focus on sorting through ‘evidence based’ updates and how to best apply to positive daily practice at a personal, professional and social level, regardless of one’s expertise.  We will venture into lessons learned and group recommendations re: hardiness, resilience, innovation and re-inventing the future vs being submissive or victims of situations. Our focus may evolve as we deeply listen to each member’s perspective. It is possible that the yield of these discussions may be beneficial to others as we explore this topic together.

10 a.m. with Ali Van (every third week)
Limits of Compassion (on Moral Imagination)

Each Common Room will run for three months (six sessions), after which there will be a one-month pause for feedback before a new cycle begins.  Alums may switch to a new group or take a break, or two groups may merge. Some Common Room groups may choose to continue as they are. We expect that some groups will become a lifelong forum for friendship and common interests, while others will give alumni a brief but meaningful opportunity to see the world from other perspectives and to share a sense of global citizenship.

Each group will have one member who has volunteered to act as host and:

  • send out the Zoom invite.
  • serve as a sounding board for group members and to share feedback with the relevant YIA committees.
  • initiate the conversation around a chosen theme.
  • facilitate discussion by making sure that everyone has a chance to speak.
  • keep track of time and close the session, making sure the group knows the date and time for the next meeting.

As the group members take over ownership of the process, you will ultimately determine the organizational details that suit your group best, from meeting length and frequency to rotating the coordinator role if desired.

  • to bring yourself to the session in an honest and open way. Everyone has something to contribute, no matter what their life experience. 
  • to give everyone a chance to speak and a space to share their thoughts.
  • to attend as many of the sessions as possible.
  • to let the host know if you won’t be able to attend a session.
  • to join in with any pre-reading/watching that your group agrees on for a session. 
  • to follow the simple YIA Common Room guidelines, listed below, along with the privacy policy for the YIA Common Room groups.

Fill out the online survey by March 3 to join a Common Room at a time that works for you.

You’ve had the Yale conversational experience. Now, in a different phase in your life, revisit the Common Room online, make new friends and hear unexpected perspectives from around the world. 

Community Guidelines

Participating in the YIA Common Rooms means you’ll be joining a community. Participation in the Common Room acknowledges your agreement to these guidelines, which are designed to create productive and stimulating discussions for you and others.

  1.  YIA Common Room conversations are not to be recorded, so that we create an open community space with informal, off-the-record conversations.
  2. One voice, one mic. Let people speak one at a time and try not to speak over one another. But remember that the time lag in an internet connection may inadvertently thwart this. 
  3. Help create an environment for everyone to contribute. Be mindful of how much you participate, as everyone in the group should have a chance to speak and a space to share their thoughts. 
  4. Try to avoid making generalizations and assumptions, and speak from your own perspective.
  5. Ask questions and listen. Recognize and respect that people are at different stages of life and of the process of learning. 
  6. Create a space of honesty and accountability for everyone to learn from their mistakes. If someone says something harmful or inappropriate, trust that person is speaking not from ill-intent, but name the harm that has been done to make it known to the group.
  7. Attend as many sessions as possible and let the host know if you will not be able to attend.
  8. Be prepared to take on the role of host when it is your turn, facilitating discussion to make sure that everyone has a chance to speak.
  9. Provide feedback to the YIA Common Rooms Committee when surveyed, to help us improve the program.
  10. Respect the confidentiality of personal stories that are shared with the group and maintain confidentiality about any personal information or contact details you are given. 
  11. If clashes in personality or topics of discussion cause problems within a small group, participants should be prepared to leave or switch groups if asked by the YIA Common Rooms Committee in order to ensure a smooth working of the program. Any decisions about group participation will be made by this committee and on occasion by the YAA, and all decisions will be final.
  12. If a participant’s behavior in a YIA Common Room is determined to be detrimental, the YIA reserves its right to remove the individual from participating in this and other YIA Common Rooms.
  13. The YIA is not responsible for the personal interactions in your YIA Common Room, as each alum is a unique individual. Some group members will become lifelong friends, while others may find that their personalities don't click. You agree that your remedy, if persistently dissatisfied with your group, is to stop attending.
  14. You may not use the YIA Common Rooms to job hunt, advertise for commercial or partisan political purposes, or for any unlawful or fraudulent purpose. Nor may you represent that the YIA or Yale name is affiliated with any outside activity in which you or your group become involved without the YIA’s or Yale’s express permission.
  15. All participants must be over 21.
  16. Views expressed in the YIA Common Rooms, or in material used to foster discussion, do not necessarily express the views of the YIA, YAA, or Yale University.

Your Privacy

Your personal information from the YIA Common Rooms survey will not be disclosed by the YIA to your group, aside from your name and, where necessary for organizational purposes, your email address.  

Please see the Yale Alumni Affairs and Development Personal Information Disclosure and the Yale University Privacy Policy for more details about your privacy.