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:
The David Project has taught me that a relationship goes two ways; you have to take interest in another group and the other group has to take interest in you. There are many women's clubs on campus that are all doing amazing work- my club She's the First is just one of them. Something She's the First is striving to work on for this upcoming school year is rallying other women's groups to all work together to create a huge event that wouldn't be able to happen just on our own. We are stronger together, and can raise more awareness about the importance of girls' education if we work together. And in order to make this happen, She's the First needs to start by just talking to other groups about what they do. Ask them questions and maybe even attend one of their club meetings. Just as The David Project teaches, we need to start by developing a true relationship- even if it starts out small- and then work up to all of the great things we are able accomplish together.
-Dana Demsky, University of Michigan, Women’s Community Panel
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 Panel