Josh Scharff (pictured far left) is The David Project Campus Coordinator at University of Michigan, Michigan State, Berkeley, Stanford, Santa Cruz, and Davis. His hobbies include being smarter than everyone, but also somehow simultaneously being nicer than everyone, so that's been pretty weird and confusing for all of his colleagues. We are so happy to have him on the campus team! Prep and print the documents. Pack up all the swag. Plan the meetings around the wild world of Hillel and its student’s myriad classes. Buy the tickets. Board the plane. Pick up the rental car. Finally, I’m here.
Only a few short months ago I returned from Israel to embark on my next adventure as a Campus Coordinator at The David Project. What a wonderful ride it has been so far. During a difficult summer for all of us in the Jewish community, I had the opportunity to meet some of the exceptional students and professionals with whom we work during our Relationship Building Institutes--first in Boston and then in DC. These seminars were a great introduction into the caliber of people that I would meet, but I had no idea what a constant this caliber would turn out to be.
I pull my bright blue Chevy Sonic rental into the parking lot of the University of Michigan Hillel and jump right in to a full day of meetings. A lunch with the assistant director over a discussion about the structure of this year’s fellowship is followed by a sit down with Michigan’s wonderful Israel Fellow, Liraz, to discuss recruiting the final 3 fellows for the year. This meeting stretches into my first meeting with a student, who was a David Project fellow the previous year, and she gives me her feedback about the fellowship. This meeting is just short enough to allow me some time to go quickly to Whole Foods and pick up snacks for the AMI board meeting which begins promptly at seven.
The next day starts at 9 a.m. with my first meeting at Starbucks in the Student Union, then on to my next meeting at 10:30 at Starbucks (but it’s actually the OTHER Starbucks). One meeting flows into the next and I do not arrive at Hillel until 3:30 in the afternoon. I stay at Hillel until 8:00 p.m. in order to introduce myself to the leaders of all the pro-Israel groups on campus. Then, after that full day, I head back to my hotel and go directly to sleep.
I learned quite a bit from my first adventure on campus. The first lesson that I took away was that, on the road, the pace is non-stop. It is fast, it is busy, and it is fun. The second lesson I learned from this trip was to always bring granola bars. “Lunch” is a nebulous concept on these trips; lunch could be at 10, it may be at 2. Always have a little snack tucked away for those particularly acute moments of hunger. The third thing I learned, as I mentioned earlier, was that the caliber of the students and professionals with whom we work is unparalleled.
The passion and dedication that each and every member of the Israel community exuded, from the youngest freshman to the most experienced senior, is overwhelming. It is an infectious passion, a yearning to change their campus for the better. The commitment and focus these students bring to the work that they are doing far exceeds anything I felt in college. It is both humbling and inspiring to be a part of their efforts.
This passion is what will drive the work that I do over the course of the year. With students like this, we will absolutely change the nature of the Israel discourse on campus. So, let’s get talking.
Find out more about Josh and the rest of The David Project team here!
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