This post is a part of our Summer Intern blog series. Leah Greer is one of three Conference Coordinator Interns who has been working at Hillel International this summer to plan Hillel Institute at Washington University in St. Louis.
This past year, I had the amazing opportunity to be an Engagement Intern at Franklin and Marshall College Hillel in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As I thought back on my year, I remembered the experiences that meant the most to me and had the biggest impact. The memory that stuck out in my mind was Hillel Institute at Washington University in St. Louis. So, as I was figuring out how I wanted to spend my summer, my Engagement Supervisor recommended that I apply for the Summer Conference Intern position at Hillel International in Washington DC, focusing on planning Institute, and, in that moment, I knew how I wanted to spend my summer.
Fast forward, Institute is less than one week away and I am even more excited than I was last year. As an Engagement Intern attending Institute, you have no real concept of what to expect. I talked to friends who went the year before and all they told me was, it is an amazing experience, and while that is nice to hear, it does not tell you anything. Institute is an environment that, in 5 days, is able to create friendships closer than ones that have taken years to form. Now, while I know all about Institute from the perspective of a participant, planning and attending are two very different things.
From the logistical side, while at Institute, everything seems so effortless. Everything is in its place. Now, I know that the process of making everything seem effortless is long and takes a great deal of work. In those moments when I get overwhelmed or my task seems tedious, I remind myself of the effortlessness I experienced and the impact Institute had on my outlook on life. My experience as a Summer Conference Intern has made me appreciate attending Hillel Institute that much more. I now understand how much work was put into those 5 days and what make them so meaningful.
Institute taught me so much about myself and my relationship with the people around me. I learned the importance of having someone “Be Interested, Not Interesting” in a conversation and, as dumb as it may sound, the art of really listening. When I say really listening, I mean actually paying complete attention to what the person is saying, not just nodding along and thinking about how you are going to respond. I learned about what being Jewish means to me and explained my Jewish journey. Boundary Breaking made me realize what I really care about in this world and while others may not show it, everyone is dealing with something and could always use a friend. These are just a few examples, I could go on and on, but to fully understand, you need to experience Institute for yourself.
If you talk to me again in 2 weeks, I may have a completely different understanding of what Institute is and what it means to me, but I’m okay with that. It means something completely different to me today, than it did a year ago. Institute is a valuable experience and I have learned just as much, if not more, by planning it than I did by attending it. It is an unforgettable experience and I cannot wait to be a part of it again!
Leah Greer is a junior at Franklin and Marshall College and a Summer Conference Coordinator intern this summer at the Schusterman International Center.