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.
Ten 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, 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.
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 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.
The 10 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 and you will be contacted when new Common Rooms open.
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. Participation in the Common Room acknowledges your agreement to these guidelines, which are designed to create productive and stimulating discussions for you and others.
- YIA Common Room conversations are not to be recorded, so that we create an open community space with informal, off-the-record conversations.
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.
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.
Try to avoid making generalizations and assumptions, and speak from your own perspective.
- Ask questions and listen. Recognize and respect that people are at different stages of life and of the process of learning.
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.
Attend as many sessions as possible and let the host know if you will not be able to attend.
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.
Provide feedback to the YIA Common Rooms Committee when surveyed, to help us improve the program.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All participants must be over 21.
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 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.