When I wrote in mid-July about the things that I was most looking forward to this summer, Israel On Demand: Advanced Strategy for Campus Advocates, was high on the list. I was excited because this conference is a new offering on The David Project summer schedule, bringing together students from our Core Partnership campuses for four days of high-level training at Harvard. During the conference, students heard from a number of well-known speakers on a variety of topics, worked one-on-one with their campus coordinator to begin the strategic planning process, explored Harvard Square and enjoyed a night out at a local candlepin bowling alley (for those of you who aren’t familiar, candlepin is like regular bowling except with a much smaller ball and pins – and yes, that makes it much more difficult!), and went to an improv show at Boston’s famous Improv Asylum.
One of the highlights of the conference included a visit to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where Barbara Kellerman, a Lecturer in Public Leadership, spoke to us about the history of leadership. She explained to us how technological advancements and cultural changes are flattening the line between leader sand followers, essentially allowing everyone to be a leader in their own right. Many students I spoke with felt that her message resonated strongly with the work they do on campus, where they are able to meet and connect with other students in ways not possible even just a few years ago.
We also heard from Jeremy Burton, the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC). Jeremy spoke about how to effectively reach out and explore potential relationships with other students by going on a listening campaign. I believe that going on a listening campaign is one of the best ways to be a highly effective Israel advocate. Hearing what other students have to say and finding places where your interests, values, and work on campus intersect helps you build your network and figure out new and exciting ways to work with your peers.
One of the final highlights of the conference was a campus tour led by a Harvard student. I have lived in Boston my entire life, but have amazingly never actually stood in Harvard Yard. To be surrounded by so much history was truly remarkable and something that I won’t soon forget!
I continue to be inspired by the work students do on campus and particularly by the willingness with which they embrace The David Project’s model of personal advocacy. Through high-level conferences such as Israel On Demand, The David Project is changing the way students approach and think about Israel advocacy on campus.