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, a new initiative for Yale alumni who are interested in the world and its citizens. Your small group of six to eight will reflect different geographic areas of the world. You will meet online for 40 minutes twice a month 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.
The Yale International Alliance, the YAA shared interest group for internationally minded alumni, is connecting 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. You may discover that current affairs are a common interest – or perhaps film, food, art, literature, music, nature, travel, or innovation.
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, the small groups will participate in a “Telling Your Story” workshop to introduce yourselves and share your international experiences.
After that, the small groups will shape their discussions to their own interests. Every YIA Common Room will be unique. The YIA will provide material, prompts, and themes from which your group can choose to get the initial conversations flowing, and then you can see just where your discussions take you.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 Zoom account to participate.
The Yale International Alliance will allocate you to your group by a match-making process based on your time zone, your availability, and the geographic region you feel you have a perspective to speak from. So, an early riser in Hong Kong might be joining a Common Room that includes an alum/na/us who’s just finished work in Miami, and a night owl living in London.
Five initial Common Rooms will be formed first via the schedule-matching process. If there is not yet a fit for you, you will be at the top of the list for the full launch of Common Rooms after the beta launch, and benefit from the feedback of the first groups.
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 will be wide-ranging and relevant to global citizenship. In the first session, the Common Room members can introduce themselves and then each member can propose a theme for the session they will be hosting. This will ensure that all group members have their interests represented, but that they will also explore new ideas.
For the pilot, each Common Room will run for two months (four sessions), after which a Common Rooms Forum will allow all our program participants to come together with the other Yale groups to give feedback and highlight their favorite themes.
At this point, alumni may switch to a new group or take a break for a few months. 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 coordinator by:
- sending out the weekly Zoom invite.
- acting as host for the first two weeks.
- coordinating the order of the weekly host.
- being ready to take over if the host is unavailable/loses WiFi connection.
- serving as a sounding board for group members and to share feedback with the relevant YIA committees.
The group’s weekly host will:
- initiate the conversation around a chosen theme.
- facilitate discussion by making sure that everyone has a chance to speak.
- follow best practices provided by the YIA to make sure that no one person speaks too much!
- keep track of time and close the session, making sure the group knows the date, theme, and host for next time.
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.
The five Initial Common Rooms will run for two months, beginning soon, and then provide feedback to refine the group experience before the further launch of the program. Whether you are part of the pilot launch program will depend on whether we can match your time availability immediately. Please do sign up now if you are interested, as the matching process means that we need to balance alumni from all over the world with all sorts of scheduling needs.
Fill out the online survey by January 20.
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.
Participating in the YIA Common Rooms means you’ll be joining a community. Please keep these guidelines in mind to help make it a productive and stimulating discussion for you and others.
- 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.
- Take space, make space. We want to create an environment for everyone to contribute. Be mindful of how much you participate but speak up if you believe that what you share will benefit everyone in the group.
- Please try to avoid making generalizations and assumptions and speak from your own perspective.
- Lean into discomfort. Push yourself to speak up, ask questions, and listen, while remembering to be patient with yourself and with the process. Recognize and respect that people are at different stages of life and of the process of learning.
- Trust intent, name impact, own impact. Create a space of honesty and accountability for everyone to learn from their mistakes. If someone says something harmful, trust that person is speaking not from ill-intent, but name the harm that has been done to make it known to the group.
- What's said here stays here, what's learned here leaves here. Respect the confidentiality of personal stories that are shared with the group, but carry the lessons and knowledge learned from the discussion into your own experiences.
Your personal information from the YIA Common Rooms survey will not be disclosed by the YIA to your group, aside from your email address being provided to the group coordinator for the purpose of organizing Zoom calls. You may choose at a later stage to provide your email address or other information to your group.