Nov 27, 2007 — High school students from across North America honed their leadership skills at the bi-annual Eimatai Leadership Development Conference in Baltimore on Nov. 11-13, under the mentorship and guidance of undergraduate students from Yeshiva University who just a few years ago were participants in the conference themselves.
The conference, under the auspices of the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future, is led by undergraduate student “advisors” who have completed 20 hours of training from the Eimatai Leadership Development Project.
With 103 participants from 14 schools participating, this year’s conference was one of the largest in the project’s eight-year history. The high school students receive training in public speaking, marketing, finance management, fundraising, and group dynamics.
“Our goal is to inspire and motivate students to take responsibility for their communities and their schools, and to help bring about change in those communities,” said Aaron Steinberg, director of the Eimatai Leadership Project.
With Eimatai advisors acting as mentors, students from each school develop a program to implement in their school or community. Projects have included developing parks in low-income neighborhoods, creating environmental awareness initiatives, revamping a local food pantry, and raising the funds to send an entire school class to Israel. Advisors help students assess the needs of their project, and continue to support them for the rest of the year.
“When I attended the conference in high school, it was the first time I felt that kids were treated like adults, We were expected to tackle real issues,” said Tal Ovadia, a junior at Sy Syms School of Business who was an advisor at the recent conference. “Now, as an advisor, I learned that it’s tougher to run a program than I would have thought. I learned a lot in my interaction with the other advisors in facilitating the groups and discussions.”
Sefi Lerner, a senior double major in biology and Judaic studies at Stern College for Women, said that the conference helped her build her leadership skills when she participated as a high school student. As a two-time advisor, “I’ve developed many skills, from learning to run discussions, to helping students develop their ideas. It’s incredible to see how enthusiastic the students are and the successes they’ve had when they push themselves.”