By Tamara Raynor Cote, Israel Teaching Fellows
What does it take to make a leader? To take someone uninformed, unengaged and unmotivated and turn them into a spark of hope for an entire community?
Hard work and dedication play their part -- it's certainly not an easy task and leadership, as most believe, stems partially from your belief in yourself and partially from the belief others have in your potential. So how do you get others to believe not only in you but in their own internal strengths?
To begin with I think having a great network of supportive and like-minded individuals surrounding you invigorates you beyond comparison. The Masa Leadership Summit
aimed to do just this. To provide us with a supportive network, some 400 participants across the involvement spectrum from dozens of countries around the world working towards one goal and spending quality time together discussing the needs and strengths of their respective communities.
I was impressed by the quality of presentation we saw. The amount of work that it took to organize such an event truly was a shining example of leadership. Excellent staffing and workshops led by experts in assorted fields from philosophy to religion, marketing to social work, political science to business management helped participants wade through the many ideas being tossed into the air like balloons to see which ones would float. Our workshops and group challenges were excellent at encouraging teamwork and partnership, not just through theoretical discussions but on-the-ground activities that pushed us to our limits. Neot Kedumim and its ropes courses, shepherding, and archery training sessions pushed us both perhaps physically and socially, and enabled us to create bonds that cross borders and bridge differences. We developed pride in our abilities to surpass goals and meet expectations and had fun doing it.
Developing a strong team helped participants find their place in a crowded and overly stimulating environment. The Beit Yehuda guest house became our headquarters for the week and familiar faces in the crowd in the dining hall eased us into the transition--and led to some interesting and hilarious conversations.
Each and every day we dealt with issues facing the Jewish global community--and not only this, but issues facing our individual communities. We heard examples and diagnostics, tools and suggestions for improving and invigorating our communities. The skills and ideas I gained from the summit will not only help me when I return to my community back home, but I'm sure I can transfer them to other areas of my life--not only to aid the Jewish people but to accomplish my personal goals.