By Louis Markowitz, NFTY-PAR MVP and Sophie Hans, Aefty PVP
For the vast majority of the world the two letters, PI, stand for a Private Investigator. But for the last month, those letters stood for a whole lot more. PAR has traditionally given all programming responsibility on the regional level exclusively to the PAR board. While regional programming has been strong, this regional tradition does not give non-board participants the experience of conceiving, writing, and executing a program at a regional event. That is why I, and the rest of PAR board, decided to introduce what we are calling Programming Interns (PIs) into our region. A PI is a general participant selected by the NFTY-PAR board to assist a board member in creating and running a program at an event. I had the privilege of being the first board member to work with our inaugural PI and I can say that without a doubt it was a success!
I contacted PAR member Sophie Hans, about the process and she accepted the challenge. The stage for our program would be (and was) NFTY-PAR’s Summer Leadership Kallah (SLK) and our program would be the first program of the event (which is always a tough place to be!). Our mission: to discuss respect in an innovative and unique way and to somehow tie leadership into the mix as well. After a long and laborious Skype brainstorming session, we decided on our idea: a debate challenge. Sophie was incredible during the planning stage, and I could tell that she was learning a lot from the process. However, the true test came on August 21, when we had to execute our program.
I met with Sophie the day of the program and she seemed nervous. Being nervous for your first program is about as normal as it gets. I could tell in the beginning that she was a bit overwhelmed by all the things that she had to do at once. At one point I remember her asking the group to be quiet a little too timidly. We worked on controlling the group and from that point she had the confidence of a leader. By the end of the program I knew that she had gained many of the skills we look for in PAR leadership. Moreover, I was able to directly impact one of PAR’s leaders, a truly meaningful experience. I truly look forward to giving more participants opportunities like this.
Sophie said this about her experience: “Being NFTY-PAR’s first Program Intern was one of the best experiences I have had! I got to work one on one with a Board member which made me more confident in myself because I look up to them. In the moment, being a program leader seemed a little stressful but it worked out better than I could have ever imagined. I really enjoyed having this honor!”