Interpersonal skills, often referred to as “people skills” or “soft skills,” are the glue that binds our social fabric together. They are the foundation upon which we build meaningful relationships, collaborate with others, and achieve success in both our personal and professional lives. These skills encompass a wide range of abilities, including effective communication, active listening, empathy, teamwork, conflict resolution, and adaptability. The 4Front Peer Leadership Fellows program recognizes the immense importance of developing these interpersonal skills early on, as they shape our interactions with others and influence our ability to lead and inspire. Through this program I have had the incredible opportunity to further develop these skills in my own life which will hopefully aid me in the future. Additionally, we live in a world that is increasingly diverse and interconnected, where individuals are searching for ways to connect with their roots and find meaning within their communities. The PLF program recognizes the importance of this quest, particularly in the context of our Jewish heritage, and provides a platform for young individuals to explore their Jewish identity and develop a profound connection to their community.
When meeting with Jewish teens from around my area, I came across something that I had not recognized before. I, thanks to my parents, have the privilege of going to a Jewish Day School where I am able to thoroughly connect to my Jewish roots. Some teens that I met with do not have the same opportunity. Therefore, when discussing the possibility of exploring that connection, they were enthused to consider different Jewish opportunities not known to them before. The sheer fact that I was able to be a catalyst for someone’s potential Jewish journey brought me so much joy and pride that I could be a part of that process. Lastly, I would like to share my experience with Peer Leadership Fellows recruitment. When Or encouraged everyone to fill out the form for potential new peer leadership fellows, I knew that by just filling out the form, I would not be persuading high school students to apply. So, I reached out to them, explaining the full extent of the program, what to expect, and what they personally would get out of it. Many I spoke to were inclined to apply because of the skills received, some because of the food, but some because of the friendships I had explained that I made. Although that is not in the description of the program, I feel as though for teens in high school, all we want are genuine connections. By explaining that I had made close connections through this program, teens almost immediately either asked more about the program or asked where they could apply. I believe that because of programs like PLF and other 4Front opportunities, Jewish teens can find close friends and their place in this world.
Now, Or has asked me to share some tips and best practices on how to successfully introduce Jewish programs to teens and encourage their participation. My first tip is the importance of thoroughly explaining what happens throughout the program. I found that when teens knew exactly what they would be getting into, they felt more comfortable applying and more confident that the program would be one they could be a part of. My second tip is discussing the social aspect of the program. For me, and I think for many teens in our generation, we feel the need to fit in and find our true friends. As time goes on and technology becomes more prominent, finding a close face to face connection with a person becomes harder. But, by telling a teen that the program they are thinking about joining will push them towards finding those connections, they are more inclined to show interest and apply. I always like to talk about my personal experience making friends at Jewish programs, a way to solidify the teen’s idea that they too can make those friendships. Also, another comforting idea to place in a teens mind is they are not the only ones looking for those connections. We may not realize it at first, but everyone is trying to find their place, and when attending a program, the teens surrounding you will also attempt to try and find a close friend. These tips can not only help recruit teens into programs but can also be used in our personal and professional lives, and I encourage you to try and do so!