Building Homes, Building Leaders
Students at UVic and SFU will forgive Hillel staff if there seemed to be a bit of an attention surplus given to UBC last week. The opening of the new Hillel House: The Diamond Foundation Centre for Jewish Campus Life is a monumental turning point in the history of our organization.
While the building will have its most obvious and dramatic impact on students at UBC, this is also the administration centre for Hillel in the province and will serve as a locus for amazing programming and planning that will benefit Jewish students on all campuses.
But, as significant as the new Hillel at UBC may be, these bricks and mortar merely constitute the structure that permits Hillel to deliver the programs that this organization is really about: Building young leaders.
The impact of this new Hillel House will be clear next month, when the Diamond Foundation Centre hosts the Hillel student leadership retreat, October 22 to 24. On that weekend, Jewish students and friends from across the province will come together and discover for themselves what a magnificently resourced space can do to enhance personal and professional leadership development.
While the new UBC Hillel House is physically beautiful inside and out, it is also eminently practical. Before our architects began designing, we sat down with students to discuss what the people who would use it most want to see in the house. Not every suggestion was accepted – there is, you will see, no hot tub on the rooftop patio – but, by and large, the recommendations were sensible. What we have in the new Hillel House: The Diamond Foundation Centre for Jewish Campus Life is 15,000 square feet of extremely useable space. Many of the spaces are able to be transformed for various uses. The dining hall, for example, can host 250 diners at tables, or double that for a film screening or lecture. If smaller spaces are needed, a retractable wall can split the room in two. Similar flexibility is incorporated throughout the facility.
This practicality is part of the inspiration for the student leadership retreat next month. Over the years, student leadership retreats have had many themes and formats. They are always educational, have a strong social component and involve a number of hands-on take-aways with which students can return to their campuses.
But we have also heard from students that, while Hillel does an awesome job of facilitating peer-to-peer learning, advocacy education and Jewish identity programming, there are some very basic fundamentals from which students could benefit.
So the retreat next month will help build some of the most core skills needed by leaders. We will have sessions on presentation skills, effective communication and marketing, public speaking and personal organization techniques. But just as we did before we began constructing the new Hillel House at UBC, we are looking for your input.
What skills would benefit you in your time as a campus leader and after? Do you need help creating your Zionist “elevator” speech? Does standing in front of a crowd unnerve you? How are your interview skills?
Nobody knows better than you the skills that will enhance your ability to be the most effective leader you can be. If you tell us, we will do our best to integrate skills training in that area into the retreat.
This month Hillelniks may seem preoccupied with the exciting and outstanding new building at UBC. But next month – mark your calendars for October 22-24 – we return full-force to what we do best: building skills among campus leaders.
The organizing committee for the leadership retreat is forming this week. If you want to be a part of it, talk to your campus director right away.
See you October 22 at Hillel House: The Diamond Foundation Centre for Jewish Campus Life at UBC.