On January 7, 20 KU Hillel student leaders embarked on the bi-annual European Leadership Mission (ELM). ELM is a high-level Winter Break trip to Sofia, Bulgaria and Bucharest, Romania for Jewish Student Leaders at KU. The trip provided students with a deeper understanding of the economic and social issues that the Jewish communities in Bulgaria and Romania experience on a daily basis. The selection process for the trip is highly competitive among students. Those selected must have demonstrated a commitment to student leadership at KU and Jewish life on campus.
KU students interacted with local Jewish communities and their leaders, and volunteered at many of the projects that the Jewish Federation supports. This trip allowed students to take the leadership skills they have acquired over the years and apply them to a new and unfamiliar environment.
KU Hillel Senior Daniel Tabakh was one of the 20 students chosen to attend ELM. As a first generation American, (both of his parents hail from Russia), Tabakh saw many cultural similarities between Russia and Bulgaria and Romania.
“It was a very cool experience for me because it was my first in-depth experience with Judaism outside of America and Israel,” he said. “What I liked most about the trip was how much we connected to the communities. The people were very excited to interact with us and I felt like we learned so much from our time spent with both communities.”
Kingston said that staffing the European Leadership Mission trip was truly an incredible experience.
“It was only upon our return from Europe that I more fully grasped the impact and importance that ELM had on our students, as well as the local European communities,” she said. “From visiting historic sites in very different cities to sitting in elderly community members' living rooms and hearing their life stories, no one could have prepared me for the experience that ELM offers.”