HomeNovember 2011Building Relationships

Building Relationships

Students from several Southern California colleges and universities came together September 9 to 11 for the Southern California CSU Hillel Engagement Retreat, the first event of its kind in the area to teach students the art of building stronger relationships and advancing Jewish journeys.
Hosted by CSUN Hillel and Hillel of Long Beach and West Orange County, the conference taught nearly 20 students peer-engagement methodologies used by Hillels around the globe to engage their peers and help them grow as Jews.  The participants came from CSUs Northridge, Long Beach, Fullerton and San Marcos, as well as San Diego State University and Los Angeles Valley College.  The conference was made possible by a grant from the Jewish Federation Valley Alliance.
“We are so grateful to the Jewish Federation Valley Alliance for supporting the Fellowship for Advancing Campus Engagement (FACE) at CSUN Hillel,” said Renée Cohen-Goodwin, executive director of CSUN Hillel.  “Our FACE Fellows came back from this training retreat with both real skills and incredible enthusiasm for their campus work.  I have no doubt they will enhance Jewish student life at CSUN beyond what we ever imagined.”
According to Rachel Kaplan, director of Hillel of Long Beach and West Orange County, “The skills that the facilitators brought with them will really help our students develop meaningful Jewish student experiences for their fellow students on campus as well as recognizing their own Jewish journeys.  Seeing how our work fits into the broader scope of the Jewish future helps to motivate our students to continue their important work.”
“Talented and passionate Jewish students are themselves the greatest asset we have to reach and engage their Jewish peers,” said Graham Hoffman, associate vice president of strategy with Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, who led several sessions over the weekend.  “Preparing them with the skills, impetus and support to develop and expand their social networks — building relationships with uninvolved Jewish peers and connecting them to Jewish life — are among the most successful ways we can broaden and expand the reach and impact of Jewish life on campus.”
Marysa Miller, a student at California State University, Long Beach, said she “became very aware of resources available to me as an intern.  I was also able to learn about resources that should be available to Jewish students, in general, and how Hillel plays a role in that for students on campus.  Being able to meet students from other Cal States helped me to bring an awareness to issues that we all face.”
“Helping students learn to create relationships with one another is particularly important – and challenging – among Cal State Universities, since these are commuter schools in which social and extracurricular activities compete with schoolwork, home life and jobs,” explained Rabbi Drew Kaplan of Southern California Jewish Student Services, who helped organize the event and provide the Jewish content of the weekend.
The training took place at Camp Max Straus in Glendale and included sessions on goal-setting, program and initiative training and exploring one’s Jewish journey.
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life seeks to enrich the lives of Jewish students, so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.  For more information, see www.hillel.org.


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