This post was written by Shayna Friedman (pictured far left), a senior at Penn State University pursuing a degree in Criminology with minors in both Sociology and Labor & Employment Relations. She has spent time living, traveling, and interning in Israel. On campus she serves as an intern for The David Project, an intern for World In Conversation, as well as the President of Penn State Chabad. As I head to class each day, I watch the flooded sidewalks of my Penn State campus filled with students walking silently side by side to class. I walk among my fellow students, many of whom I will never meet personally, whom I will never know. My mind is on Israel and I wonder where are other people’s thoughts, what are they thinking of? I think back to this past summer and my time spent in Israel. I think back even further to my first time in Israel, four years ago. The people I’ve met over the years, the places I’ve traveled to, the adventures I’ve had, inside this special country. I am overwhelmed at the thought that I have been thousands of miles away from the U.S., yet continue a deep-rooted connection and support for Israel back in America on my college campus.
Again, I wonder, where are other people’s minds? Where have my fellow students traveled to, what kinds of experiences have they had in their lives and what do they truly care about? The David Project encourages students who are leaders for causes they cherish to sit down with one another and find common ground on issues that are close to their hearts. The David Project gives students the opportunity to take the time and actively listen to one another. This allows an open window of sorts into another student's driving life force: what makes them get up in the morning, what motivates them to create change in the world? Creating an open dialogue between pro-Israel students and students who are active members of other causes they feel strongly about provides endless space for personal growth and development. Dialogue that enriches the experience of both parties involved has the power to shape us as well-rounded people, and inform the way we understand our fellow peers on campus.
To my surprise, I was welcomed back to my senior year at Penn State this semester with requests for interviews by different local news sources in regards to my position as both a pro-Israel campus leader, and as a student who had recently spent time in Israel. I felt that through my participation in these interviews, I would be able to give a more personal insight into my own experience living in Israel.
I look forward to working on my campus as a David Project intern and beginning my journey in forming relationships between myself and other passionate leaders on my campus. This year, I work alongside a highly driven and motivated executive student board in my Lions for Israel group on campus in conjunction with other David Project interns. In this way, I can contribute to positive discussion about Israel and all of her complexities. People are interested now more than ever about Israel and what is going on “over there."
NOW is the time to talk Israel. Being part of The David Project means building relationships based on open-dialogue where each party has equal footing and a shared space to talk about the things they care about. I look forward to a year of conversation, a year of sharing experiences, and a year of gaining insight into someone else’s world. L’shana tova and may we all have the opportunity to be representatives in our lives for the things we care about.