A message from the West Coast National Board Representatives:
Last weekend, The David Project staff and National Student Board teamed up to host the first ever David Project West Coast Regional Retreat. Fifteen interns from 7 California campuses between UC Davis and UC San Diego met in Santa Maria, California along with Senior West coast Coordinator, Lucia, West Coast Coordinator, Juan, and Campus Manager, Dylan from the David Project staff to focus on forming allyships on campus, mobilizing the Jewish community, and creating a strong network of student advocates.
The retreat began with the delegations from each campus introducing themselves and describing their internship team, campus climate and recent successes and challenges, allowing students to familiarize themselves with the situation on other campuses.
The first day of the retreat was centered on initiating relationships between
interns in California and establishing a foundation of important knowledge and skills for relational advocates through a series of workshops led by the National Student Board members.
Once students got to know each other, National Student Board Member, Ashley Navi, facilitated the famed David Project workshop: Personal Narrative/Active Listening. Interns broke into pairs to practice telling their personal narratives and active listing skills - pillars of effective relationship building. Following the training, UCD intern, Daniel Vainish, led an Israeli current events session that began with an overview of Israeli government and then dove into a discussion about religious/secular tension in Israeli politics, based on a Haaretz article about segregated Haredi bus lines in religious parts of Israel. The last session of the day, led by Ben Roumimper, explored the idea of allyships in a cafe dilemma style discussion that posed the question “How can the Jewish/pro-Israel community act as an ally on campus, in a time when many communities are in need of support?”
After the sessions, the first day ended with pizza and bowling followed by Jewish card games and the natural discourse, political debates and profound conversations about advocacy on campus that occur when you put smart, passionate students together.
The second day of the retreat was dedicated to exploring new ways to bring the
ideas of allyship discussed on day one, back to campus. After brainstorming the
many pressing issues that communities are facing on our campuses, the group
decided to address the increasing anti-Muslim sentiment and rhetoric. During the
final session of the weekend, the students met with their campus delegations to
create an action plan to address the new West Coast Regional initiative to better relationships between the Muslim and Jewish communities on campus, as well as helping the Jewish community increase its own awareness of Islamophobia.
Each campus came up with a unique plan to mobilize their community to take action on this issue and set an example of true allyship on campus. Ideas that were put into action included bringing speakers from ADL or AJC to speak with Hillel students about the relationship between Islamophobia and anti-semitism, or organizing informal discussions between the Jewish and Muslim communities on campus, in an effort to lead the way for the Jewish community to act as an ally for their Muslim peers on campus.
Overall, the retreat was very successful at achieving its goals and we look forward to hearing about the amazing allyship efforts led by the California David Project intern teams.