Tuesday, May 7th, 2013...11:18 pm

When Programs Go Awry

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QC HillelKoach on Campus

Tuesday, May 7 @ 4:45 PM – I am pretty confident that all will go well at my 6:30 PM event.

Tuesday, May 7 @ 5:45 PM – I start to get worried about my event.

Tuesday, May 7 @ 6:30 PM – Uh oh… what’s going to happen?

Break down.

As my frequent readers know, though I am a freshman here at Queens College, I have become extremely active on campus – especially in Hillel, the Jewish organization for students.  I am also the intern for Koach on Campus, a Conservative Jewish program for college students.  As an intern, I am held responsible to create monthly events that foster Jewish experiences.  As a perfectionist and an anxiety-prone individual, I tend to get nervous when planning and executing said events or programs.  Often times I only end up hosting about five students, and sometimes my goals aren’t even reached.  It really is a learning process!

For my last event this semester, I wanted to create something that would get Koach’s name on the map.  Women of the Wall, a very Event Publicityimportant organization and one that has been in the news recently, was sending a speaker my way to talk about the issue of women praying at the Western Wall in Israel.  I had everything organized – the room, the food, the flyers, the guest list, and even the projector!  A lot of people seemed to be interested in the topic and though I don’t trust Facebook Event RSVP statistics, I was getting pretty excited about the prospective turnout!  What could POSSIBLY go wrong?  I had everything covered!

Some things are just out of your control.  Being a control freak and someone who likes to be on top of everything, this is a hard and difficult fact to grasp.  But tonight, I had to come face to face with this unfortunate truth.  As the above timeline states, things were deteriorating before my eyes.  As the clock neared the hour of showtime, the Woman of the Wall speaker was no where to be seen.  At least it was a bit comforting that I was able to converse with her over the phone.  6:30 PM came along and people started filing into the room – a lot of people!  The group was great, including people from totally different backgrounds – there were Jews and non-Jews, and within those two categories, so many varieties!  But what could I do?  I had invited a speaker to talk about Women of the Wall because I personally have no expertise in the subject and I was interested in learning more!  I couldn’t possibly run a lecture or presentation on my own.

I couldn’t take it.  After calling the presenter who had lost her way to campus and just couldn’t get there soon enough, I broke down in tears.  I tried to calm myself down, but drying my eyes and splashing my face with water did nothing.  As soon as I left the bathroom and was met by the Hillel staff, club president, and some other active Hillel members, I crumbled.  After all of this anxiety in planning the event, it had fallen through!  I even was seen crying in front of my advisor who had come back to help me with the technology!  And on top of this, I was disappointing a whole room of interested individuals!!!  I can’t thank Uri Cohen, Jenna Citron, and Ariel Shapiro enough for coming to my rescue, as they comforted me and then went in the room to foster conversation with the audience.  I returned to the bathroom, still not able to control my tears.  It wasn’t until my good friends Alex and Randi came in to comfort me that I felt well enough to return to MY event and listen and partake in conversation.

This has definitely been a learning experience for me.  Even though things didn’t go as planned, and even though I did break down and probably overreacted to the situation at hand, in the end, my event was really successful.  Ariel Shapiro, the president of Hillel, took it upon herself to lead a discussion about Women of the Wall and facilitated conversation with those who stayed.  Topics related to this issue were also brought up, such as denominational movements within Judaism and the problems they face – a prime example being Reform Judaism and intermarriage.  After the event was over, people stayed around to chat.  My two friends, Alex and Randi, aren’t even Jewish but the event intrigued them so much that they stayed until 9:00 PM conversing with various Jewish students about Jewish customs and practices.

I’m not saying that if this whole ordeal happened again I wouldn’t cry – I probably would.  I’m still an anxious control freak at heart and won’t be able to change that so easily.  But, I do need to remember that life doesn’t go as planned and sometimes, beautiful things come from mistakes and unfortunate events.  From this conversation and dialogue between Jewish and non-Jewish students, I’ve come up with ideas for future events in my coming years here on campus and as part of Hillel‘s leadership.  Yes, I was discouraged this evening, and I think I still have a bit of said discouragement in me at this point, but I think overcoming the problems I faced tonight will make me a much stronger leader and individual.  We grow from our struggles.

I would like to thank everyone who did come to my event, and especially everyone who decided to stay even after the planned lecture was canceled.  I hope the conversation was meaningful and enjoyable, and I hope the cookies and brownies were delicious!

Marina B. Nebro



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