KELLY VAUGHAN ’ 17
Cultural organizations provide an exceptional opportunity to be introduced to new cultures and ways of life, or to express one’s own culture. They also serve as a space to get to know other students that one may not have the opportunity to meet otherwise.
Trinity’s Hillel Program Manager, Amy Zylberman, has been fostering a relationship with The David Project, “a Pro-Israel organization that educates student leaders from across the country on Israel in order to create positive relationships and change on back on each of the campuses,” for a number of years. Based out of Boston, The David Project has interns at college campuses all over the country. At Trinity, those interns include Jade Hochberger-Vigsittaboot ’18, Emily Kaufman ’18, and Prawesh Dahahl ’18, all of whom are “work[ing] to foster relationships between organizations who would not normally work together,” according to Hochberger-Vigsittaboot.
Most recently, three Trinity students traveled to Israel over winter break with The David Project- Jade Hochberger-Vigsittaboot, Raekwon Wheeler, and Paola Otero. Wheeler explained the unique opportunity for him and his peers, telling the Tripod that “The trip was really an eye-opening experience that showed a wide range of perspectives in a little amount of time. It consisted of learning about the culture and society of Israel through conversations with diverse Israelis, Palestinians, and the narratives of the Jewish students on the trip. We spent time talking about issues back on our own campuses, student leadership, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Each year, students can apply to go on a free trip to Israel over winter break, working with The David Project for an experience like the one Hochberger-Vigsittaboot outlined above.
In regards to cultural organizations, Wheeler and Hochberger-Vigsittaboot agree that they would both like to see more collaboration between culture houses and associations on campus. Vernon Street, a place that was once lined entirely with fraternity houses, has now transformed to boast a home for a number of culture-centered groups- a transformation that should be embraced. Hochberger-Vigsittaboot explained that in the past, she has helped to coordinate an event co-sponsored by IMANI and Hillel, while Dahal worked on a Hannukah-Diwali event between Hillel and AASA. “This year we are having an Israel Shabbat where the other two participants on Israel Uncovered, Raekwon Wheeler and Paola Otero, will share their experiences, alongside a video Raekwon made of our trip on Bus 6,” Hochberger-Vigsittaboot tells the Tripod.
What once started as an advocacy organization has transformed into a nationwide project. The David Project is “fairly unique in the world of Israel advocacy,” according to Hochberger-Vigsittaboot, and continues to grow across the country. Wheeler concludes that “People often describe things as being a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, but the David Project’s Israel Uncovered trip truly is. Nowhere else would I be able to experience Israel with a group of Jewish and non-Jewish students and get the exposure to the complex and dynamic nature of Israel like I did while on the trip.”