Peer Leadership Reflections

Peer Leadership Reflections

In Their Own Words

Read what Jacob & Daniel have to say, in their own words, about reaching out and connecting with peers through their Sloane Peer Leader Fellowships (North Shore Cohort 1).

Jacob Abbisso, Gann Academy, Class of 2018:

photo What was the most surprising aspect of your work as a Sloane Peer Leadership Fellow? I learned that leadership requires a very complex set of skills. The prerequisite for any type of leadership is passion. It is only possible to spark an interest in others if that flame burns brightly within yourself.

What have you learned about your Jewish community through this experience? There are many other passionate teens from all over the North Shore (and beyond!) who are committed to Tikkun Olam. It is important for us to connect and be the voice of the future. People want to be active, but need a pathway in. For teens especially, it can be difficult to find others who want to change the world instead of retreating into their own. It has been awesome to be a part of something so big and to feel momentum build.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your work as a Sloane Peer Leadership Fellow? The most challenging aspect is taking risks to engage people I don’t know very well in a way that makes them feel comfortable and respects their individual expressions of faith. It’s also a challenge to pique the interest of someone who isn’t a “practicing” Jew. We all observe in different ways, but we have a thread that binds us.

What else should we know about your experience as a fellow? My experience as a fellow is both gratifying and empowering! I feel something much larger than myself. I’m passionate about Judaism and Tikkun Olam, and couldn’t be true to myself if I were trying to get people involved in something I didn’t believe in.

Daniel Kasten, St. Johns Prep, Class of 2019:

photo What motivated you to apply for the Fellowship? I knew being selected as a Sloane Peer Leadership Fellow would enable me to be more involved and have a broader impact on Jewish teens in my community.

What have you learned about peer engagement through this experience? I have found that teens enjoy spending time with their peers, they are motivated to volunteer and make a difference in the community by helping those in need, and enjoy broadening their social and religious identity. Many teens in our community are involved in Jewish overnight camps and I believe we can leverage these relationships and outreach during the school year to ensure that these connections remain strong outside of camp.

How has the Fellowship impacted your life? After being trained by a representative of Hillel International, I have learned the value of communication and the importance of actively listening to my peers. This is vital in helping to create programming that would target the interests and needs of specifc groups. More importantly, this opportunity has given me insight as I prepare to transition toward college and look forward to seeking out Jewish community groups to support on campus.