Leadership at its finest, with a Friendsgiving on the side

Before we talk about leadership and the conference I went to, lets reflect back on the week that I had before that. Haifa seems like a good place to start.

Haifa is a city in the north on the coast that is built on a mountain. It is a city that really reminds of San Francisco. That is probably because of how hilly it is. We started off our day at a monastery. It was beautiful and the view was unbelievable.  We then went to the Druze village. Druze are a group of people that are loyal to the country they live in, but have their own religion and ways. The Druze can’t marry out or else they are not Druze anymore. No one can marry in either, its a very secretive religion and people. We got to see one of their neighborhoods in Haifa and then were provided with their hospitality of food and tea. If you come to Israel, and DON’T SEE the next thing I am about to talk about, YOU ARE DOING ISRAEL WRONG! The Baha’i gardens are such a peaceful place. Their are 19 different terraces with many different symmetric shapes on each level. There is a golden-domed Shrine of the Báb, the resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith in the middle of the gardens. It is seriously so peaceful and breathe taking. (you NEED to see it before you leave Israel). To finish off our wonderful day in Haifa we ended at the   Ahmadiyya community where we listened to a man speak about the Ahmadi Muslims. It was interesting, but we were all exhausted so it was more challenging to focus on what he was saying. Not only were we exhausted, the environment was off. The lights kept going off, a door kept creaking open, and his phone kept ringing and ringing. It was all very strange. I wish I was less distracted to be able to focus on what was going on. To sum it up, Haifa is a great place and defiantly should be on your list of places to visit when you come to Israel.

Let’s keep reflecting two weeks ago. On Wednesday of that week, I got to see some great people that were Mishlacot (Israeli delegation) at my camp. They drove to Ashdod and we had an amazing dinner. It was so nice to see them and so sweet that they drove down to Ashdod. On Thursday, a wonderful era ended for me, I saw the final Hunger Games movie. All I am going to say was IT WAS AMAZING!!!!! I am sad this era is over, but I know there will be something that comes along again, just as good. For Shabbat I went to Jerusalem with some of the Ramleians (ITF from Ramle) and we met some ITFers from Rehovot at Chana’s (she baked challah with us in previous post). It was such a peaceful and relaxing Shabbat. Well that now brings us to where majority of my past week was spent…. The Masa Global Leadership conference.

What is the first word that pops into your head when you hear the word leadership? Something positive? Something negative? A word over used? Authority figure? A person in your life? Yourself? Well no matter the word, you are all correct. Leadership can be all of those things that I listed above and more.  I spent the past week learning and engaging with leadership while looking at with a different perspective, inside out.

The first day of the conference, which was Sunday November 22, we met our small groups that we would be debriefing and discussing different topics with throughout the week. The first day was focused on re-framing leadership. We looked at how we don’t always need that authority figure to be the leader and that anyone can step up and be the leader, it doesn’t always have to be one person. An example on how we re-framed leadership was by having people present leadership challenges to the group and taking themselves out of the conversation, but staying physically in the room. I got to share my challenge with a smaller group within my group. (Instead of sharing in front of 20 people I shared in front of 10) So basically I had to share my challenge for 3 minutes then the group asked me clarifying questions. After the questions ended I had to physically turn around just listening to them talk about the situation. Not defending anything or interjecting my thoughts. Just listening and taking in what they were saying. It felt like forever until I got to turn back around, but after I had a different perspective and outlook on the situation. It was defiantly a re-frame of leadership for me.

That night we heard the chief of staff in Israel to Bibi Netanyahu, which I thought was interesting because we just spent all day re-framing how we look at leadership and authority, but there we were putting someone back in authority. He made some interesting points, but what stuck out to me kind of left a biter taste in my mouth.  He said the Jewish story from now on is being written in Israel, which I don’t disagree with but he said ONLY Israel and the Jewish population outside of Israel is the “supporting staff” such as the ticket givers and the people who make the main story run. I disagree with this second part because I feel the Jewish story is ALSO being written outside of Israel as well as inside. EVERY Jewish person is part of the main cast, not the supporting staff.

The second day, November 23, was a great day. It was all about diversity. We engaged in discussions about how we are all diverse, but also so is the world around us. We went to this place that we were divided into different groups and had to do team building activities. My group started off having all different ideas and all over the board, but then as the day went on we worked better as a group. It was nice seeing the transformation of our group and how our dynamic grew. We were a diverse group of leaders that came together to be one team.

Once we were back at the hotel, we did an activity that I want to take with me forever that helped us focus on diversity. This program was called open space. Each person had to present (use that term loosely, it did not have to be just standing and talking) something that they could do for seven minutes. There were five different rotations, so everyone got to present but also hear and do what others were presenting. So the people presenting would tell their name and topic, pick a spot in the room then people would come find them if they wanted to hear more. I used my seven minutes to give a kickboxing lesson. (THANK YOU 9 ROUND FOR THAT SKILL) It was freaking awesome. I was worried I didn’t have anything to do for seven minutes, but then I remembered one of the things I loved the most and ran with it. It was a really cool experience to get to hear about what other people felt important to them and that everyone got to be apart of it. We ended the night with Ted Talks by some of the participants who were willing/wanted to present in front of everyone.

Day three of the conference, November 24, was about creativity. We were supposed to look at Israel as the lab and how Israeli’s are using the environment in creative ways. We got to choose which trip we went on just by the name. I chose the one that was called land and environment. We went to Beersheva and Sderot. It was an hour and half tour of all the places that JNF (Jewish National Fund) has donated money to in Beersheva and Sderot. It was okay, but I wish it wasn’t so rushed. I felt that we were just on a tour instead of really getting to know the land and how these people have used and changed the land. It was cool seeing the Sderot indoor playground that families can come and the kids can be kids. Anywhere you are in the playground area, you are less than 15 seconds away from a bomb shelter inside. It is a really cool facility and I remember raising money for it. Though it was a challenging day, it seemed to be a challenging day for mostly everyone. We finished the day with a culture night which was a good reliever from the day.

Day four, November 25, was how we could bring it into the world. We got to pick the sessions we went to all day pretty much. The first session I picked was your personal narrative. We got coached on how to write our own personal narratives and present them in an effective way. The next session I chose to go to was called challenges facing the Jewish world. It was very confusing because the title was not what we talked about. We talked about how we can be citizens in more than one place. It was not what I was expecting. Then in the afternoon there were some informative sessions about the future. I chose a Hillel fellowship to go hear more about. It was super interesting and very informative. It made me excited for what the future can bring. Our last night was Hannukah Gala where we celebrated the conference and all that we had accomplished and gone through.

The final day of the conference, November 26, was about staying alive. Which was funny because the night before was a late night and everyone was exhausted. We ended the conference hearing from very interesting speakers and then a theater company. It was a bittersweet ending the conference. I really enjoyed the people I got so close to over the week and pretty much everything that we learned and discussed. There were defiantly challenging parts to the conference, but overall it was informative and interesting. I am excited to take what I learned with me through my time here in Israel and my future.

Well I might as well finish by talking about the days after the confrence. So as many of you know, or might not know, Thanksgiving is MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY (I take right after my mom in that manner). Well this was the first Thanksgiving that I wasn’t in America (hopefully the last) and I was going to be really sad not celebrating, but then friends came through and I had TWO Friendsgivings!!! IT WAS THE BEST and I got to celebrate my favorite holiday!!!!

Yesterday we had our first enrichment that was led by ITFers. Mike and Leora planned a cook-off. We were split into teams of 10 and had one hour to prepare an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert that had to be Israeli or relate to a Jewish holiday. We did a combonation of both Israeli and Jewish holiday. Dessert is right up my alley so I knew it had to be good. (Fun fact, I LOVE PINTEREST!) So I saw/pinned a while ago S’more Latkes… That was our dessert and THEY TASTED AMAZING!!!! I was so proud of them. All of our dishes were good, but in the end the other team won. It was a nice friendly competition that we had though and got a chance for people to bond with people they might not have before.

Well things are still going great and happy three months to me.

xoxo

Marissa

12246900_1009124262441436_4923967100445295291_nBaha’i Gardens… BEAUTIFUL12246622_1010381478982381_1671869080404600509_nSome of my favorite Israelis12301755_1013565831997279_5910596639796806772_nGROUP 5 FROM THE LEADERSHIP SUMMIT (SAFE SPACE)12243340_1013119692041893_6810378067362200430_nHanging out with some great friends at the Leadership confrence12239727_1012762785410917_4832625343217860711_nSderot Indoor playground, outside of it12313811_1014814758539053_844239137299965670_n.jpgCook-off Destination Israel Style

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