This spring, The David Project and Boston University Hillel trained seven outstanding leaders on personal advocacy and leadership through a six session fellowship. As the students learned relationship-building skills, one of their main tasks was to reach out to a peer from a different community at BU, get to know them, and invite them to a dinner to meet students who traveled to Israel on relationship-building trips, including The David Project’s Israel Uncovered: Campus Leaders Mission.
On Monday, March 18, the BU Israel Advocacy Fellowship hosted its first-ever Campus Conversation. Over dinner, a group of 16 students from diverse backgrounds asked questions about Israel and discussed a variety of topics relating to leadership and student group collaboration.
The group kicked off the conversation by introducing themselves and their involvement at BU. I was impressed by the diverse backgrounds and involvement of each student the Fellows invited: a former and current student body president; a member of Kappa Delta, one of BU’s many Greek life organizations; a Catholic student interested in learning more about traveling to Israel; a student involved with the LGBTQ Center; and a member of the Posse Scholars Group (an organization that promotes cross-cultural communication).
After the students got to know each other, the four Israel trip participants spoke about their experience and how it contributed to their leadership roles at BU. Rachel DuShey and Kateri Donahoe (both Israel Uncovered alumnae) highlighted how the diverse make-up of The David Project’s trip allowed for fascinating, provocative, and eye-opening dialogue about Israel.
The group then asked challenging and thought-provoking follow-up questions. Did the trip change your perspective? Were there things you saw that you struggled with? What did you gain from the experience? Why does Israel advocacy exist to begin with?
As the evening shifted into open discussion, I was reminded of a comment one of the Fellows made a few weeks ago during a training session. Groups don’t work together often enough, she said. So, I asked the students at the dinner: how might groups at BU work together more often, and more productively?
One answer in particular stuck out to me. The student, who is a member of the LGBTQ Center, wished that there were more opportunities for students to share their interests, learn from one another, and address the issues they care about honestly. She said that this Campus Conversation filled that void.
Moments like these bring a smile to my face, because they reflect the hard work and dedication of our Fellows, who bring more and more students into conversation every day by sharing their love for Israel. After the dinner, several of the invited students asked the Fellows how they can travel to Israel. These conversations have clearly sparked something!