Hi! I’m Hayley and I’m going on KU Hillel’s European Leadership Mission this winter break. Now that the semester is finally over, we’re starting to get more excited as our trip approaches on Jan. 7. On ELM, Hillel will take me and 19 other students to Romania and Bulgaria to work with and learn about the Jewish communities in the countries’ biggest cities, Bucharest and Sofia respectively.
During our pre-trip sessions throughout the semester, we talked a lot about how the Jewish communities in both countries have changed over the past decades and what the people in the communities are doing now to help the Jewish populations grow. I’m really excited to learn about these two countries because, prior to the pre-trip sessions, I didn’t know anything about either and never thought I would get to visit them. The people we get to work with when we’re there have done so many amazing things and have so many interesting stories to share, and I and the other students on the trip are eager to learn from them.
In our pre-trip meetings, we also set some goals for ourselves for the trip, such as unplugging and trying to learn and gain new experiences from everything we see. We all have journals and plan to write about these experiences in them. The way Hillel allows us to experience these things and encourages us to discuss them with each other is a unique opportunity, so I’m interested to see what conversations we all have about the different things we encounter on the trip.
We still have a few more weeks before flying out of Chicago together, but make sure to check back on this blog for posts during the trip about all of our favorite experiences of the day, best food we tried (we’re really excited about these posts; we heard one of the hotels serves great breakfast) and about what we learned during the programs and visits of the day.