Students “Demand” the Best

At Israel on Demand: Advanced Strategy for Campus Advocates, students from across the country traveled to Boston for The David Project’s inaugural conference at Harvard University. While The David Project had several other seminars this summer, this one was designed exclusively for students from our Core Partner campuses. The schedule was packed with experts in their respective fields including David Makovsky from the Washington Institute and Barbara Kellerman from The Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. While these outside lecturers were informative and engaging, what really set this conference apart was The David Project’s approach to campus advocacy.

The David Project believes that Israel advocates need to be more than just passionate; they need to be strategic. I always tell students to treat their efforts on campus as they would a final paper. Before you can write the final draft, you must brainstorm, plan, research, analyze and outline. While it might seem daunting at first, in reality, a well-executed plan (made in conjunction with David Project campus coordinators) can yield amazing results.

The conference came to a head on the last full day of the conference when campus coordinators met in small groups with the students from their respective schools to begin strategic planning for the upcoming school year.

When we originally set aside a two-and-a-half hour block for this session, I have to admit I thought it was going to be too long (and potentially too boring). But in reality, it was too short.

With all of the other sessions of the conference setting the stage for strategic planning – the students were fully bought in and eager to begin the process. In this workshop, we focused on figuring out who to talk to on campus and what realistic goals and objectives should be for the school year. This topics inspired constructive debates and analyses amongst the students and campus coordinators and the time went by more quickly than any of us expected.

In the end we could have used a couple more hours for this workshop. Even so, the time was spent valuably as we successfully laid the groundwork for future planning sessions and implementation of the strategic goals once the school year starts.

According to the student evaluations, the planning workshop was one of the most highly rated sessions of the conference. Thank you to our amazing students at the conference (especially from my region), and I look forward to continuing our strategic work together as the school year starts!