Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach hosted a day-long student leadership retreat last week for more than 20 of the region's top Jewish student leaders from across Broward and Palm Beach counties. The retreat brought together members of the student boards from Jewish organizations at Florida Atlantic University's Boca Raton and Jupiter campuses, Lynn University, Nova Southeastern University and Broward Community College for a day of experiential learning activities.
"It is very inspiring that student leaders committed such a large portion of their weekend to improving their leadership skills and helping better serve their community," said Gary Wolff, the director of student leadership at Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach.
By engaging students in exciting, hands-on activities rather than lectures, Hillel staff members educated the students about teamwork, communication skills and leading by example while providing them the opportunity to meet students from other colleges who have similar interests. Activities included "the maze," in which blindfolded students had to find their way through a maze of chairs and tables without communicating with each other, and "the scrum," in which they moved together outdoors as a cohesive unit. Students also completed "the long walk to freedom," in which they linked arms and had to move as one unit to move from one place to another without talking, and they learned about concepts of sikkum, the importance of evaluating programs, and dugma ishit, leadership by example.
As a large group, students participated in an open forum about their expectations of their Hillel professionals and the professionals' expectations of them. Students also had the opportunity to write personal mission statements, which included their personal and Hillel goals for the next six and twelve months.
"It was great to interact with Jewish student leaders from other campuses and see that we all have similar goals and challenges," said Melanie Juli, a senior at Florida Atlantic University and president of FAU Hillel. "By spending a whole day with the members of our student board, I got to know them better and think we now have a stronger foundation to create great programs for Jewish students at FAU."
Hillel plans to offer a student leadership retreat at the beginning of each semester to develop students' leadership skills for their time on campus and to inspire them to become leaders in the Jewish community after graduation.