BIEC’s Madrichim in Training Program – by guest blogger Samantha Schneider
Samantha Schneider was a participant in BIEC’s 2010-2011 Madrichim in Training (MIT) program and is an active volunteer with the Bronfman Israel Experience Centre. She just got back from leading her first Birthright trip to Israel! If you are interested in applying for the MIT program please go to: http://biec.wufoo.com/forms/canada-israel-experience-madrich-application-2011/
I went on Birthright as a participant last May, 2010 and I had the most incredible experience! Little did I know that coming home and applying to participate in the Madrichim in Training (MIT) leadership program would change my life. I am a very studious person and I spend most of my time doing my schoolwork. On an honest note, I had never really had any associations with the Jewish community, or participated in any of the programs it offers. My parents have always been very insistent on my potential involvement within the community, and I saw this program as an ideal approach.
I remember feeling very nervous about participating in the group interview at the BIEC office, as I did not know what to expect from it. As I looked around the room, however, I realized that there was a group of 40 other people who, just like me, were coming into this feeling very anxious and restless. Although this event occurred almost a year ago, I remember it as if it were yesterday! I had SO much fun and left the building feeling very excited and hopeful about being accepted into this very engaging program.
Why was it so engaging? For starters, the people that work in the BIEC office are TOTALLY awesome. They work hard, have fun, and love what they do! Walking into their office, you can immediately feel the sense of community that exists among them. It was an association that I very much wanted to become a part of. Additionally, I had learnt through various e-mails about the many events and programs that this office organizes and partakes in, all of which piqued my interest, such as back to school parties, Froshashana, 8 Crazy Nights (to celebrate Hanukkah), I Heart Fashion, the S.H.E. series, Habs with Jer, and many, many more.
The great thing about this program is that it is so diverse and the opportunities are endless. As a result, anyone can actively participate in the program, whether it involves volunteering, chairing social events, and celebrating holidays. Ultimately, this program creates a multitude of ways to meet new people, which is my personal favorite part of the program. I say this with no exaggeration… I have met more interesting people within the last year than I have ever met in my life.
Furthermore, the MIT leadership program built a community of individuals who were initially complete strangers to one another and who have since become the best of friends. It all began when the MITs were required to go up north on a weekend retreat to Camp B’nai Brith. Together, we formed into a group of people who shared a common belief: our love forIsrael. It was incredible to see how fast we had bonded! To this day, almost a year later, I can honestly say that I gained new best friends.
On this weekend, we were trained to become leaders. The many icebreakers, activities, and programs that we were introduced to on this weekend truly shaped how I was as a madricha. Overall, the MIT training program consists of 8 different sessions throughout the year that discuss topics such as community orientation, public speaking and group facilitation, program planning and engagement, Holocaust education, Israel advocacy, Israel geography, and the importance of Shabbat dinner.
Lastly, the MIT program connects each MIT with a mentor who has previously gone through the program. These people are put into place to guide their MITs and to share with them the personal leadership skills they developed throughout the program. My mentor, David Toledano was very approachable, helpful, and supportive. It was during our coffee meetings and brunch dates where I had realized the effectiveness of the program. I voiced my concerns and he shared his experiences, feelings, and recommendations, which were all very valuable and meaningful.
A few months ago I had told myself that even if I weren’t to lead a trip this summer, my experience in the MIT program would have been a gift in itself. I was very fortunate to have led a Birthright trip this past May 2011. I couldn’t have asked for a better co-madrich,Jeremy Heitner, our educator, Yaron Shelef was fantastic, and the medic on our trip, Itai Bar, was awesome! As for the participants on the trip, they were all so great that this trip was truly a remarkable way for me to end off the MIT training program year.
Interested in applying for BIEC’s MIT program? Go to http://biec.wufoo.com/forms/canada-israel-experience-madrich-application-2011/ to apply to be a Birthright leader for 2011-2012.