Our students do incredible work of bridging divides between groups from every corner of campus. Sometimes it isn’t easy and sometimes it takes years to establish relationships between communities built in trust, mutual respect and support, and allyship. At the 2016 Relationship Building Institute, we make sure that students get to hear about and learn from one another’s successes and challenges. Students on our Student Community Panels will speak about how they reached out and built relationships with a specific group, and the significance that building relationships with other student groups has had to them personally, the entire community, and for Israel on campus.
Here’s a taste of what some of them are speaking about:
Relational Advocacy is an untapped solution to many of the world's problems. We spend so much of our time absorbed in our own cultures that oftentimes we forget that our way isn't the only way. Most of us recognize the power that we all hold within our own groups to make change within that group, but what many of us don't realize is that the power that we hold within our groups can be used for so much more than just us. When I traveled to Israel with the David Project, the one thing that stood out to me were the similarities that some of the students on my bus (Shout Out Bus 5!) shared with me. I learned so much about the Jewish culture and the many of the problems that they face on campus, are some of the same ones that we do. Both of us have different solutions to our problems, but because we never congregate together (meaning we all stay on our own paths, with our heads down, looking straight ahead) we've never had the opportunity to share our ideas and create a safer community for everyone. Both of our groups are strong individually, but the power that we have together is unsurpassable. Imagine what could happen if we our combined power to build even more relationships with and advocate for those groups on campus who could use a few allies.
-Gabrielle Hand, University of Miami, Christian Community
I think The David Project's model of Relational Advocacy has emphasized the importance of friendship across different communities on campus. Trust should be the first priority when talking about relevant issues that matter to us, and the only way to build trust is to begin with a friendship that values the other's ideas and concerns. I think The David Project facilitated this well on the Israel Uncovered trip, because they allowed ample time for the students on the trip to become friends and trust each other before discussing these controversial topics.
-Kathryn Graham, University of Michigan, Student Government Panel