By Chantelle Moghadman When I walked into Students Supporting Israel’s very first conference, with my SSI pin on the lapel of my black blazer, I was filled with pride. During the past eight months that I have been a part of this organization, I have watched it grow from 20 to nearly 50 chapters, with SSI leaders across North America who came together in the city where it all started – Minneapolis.
I could write about everything I learned at the conference, or the remarkable speakers, but the best part of the conference is what SSI is really about – the students. SSI is different from any other pro-Israel organization because it is built by students, for students. Every leader and founder of an SSI chapter has played a fundamental role in shaping the organization and leading the pro-Israel fight on university campuses. Every student is just as much a part of SSI as our founders at the University of Minnesota.
SSI Student Leaders from Around the Country Meeting in Minneapolis
Our first conference was not just a milestone; it was a personal accomplishment for each and every one of us. It was an opportunity to recognize the work we had done and look forward to another year of pro-active, pro-Israel activism. Even if every SSI leader has had different experiences on campus, and we have all had to fight different battles, we have never had to so alone. SSI is more than a network of students – we are a family. Being a part of SSI does not only mean empowering ourselves to be the pro-Israel voices on our respective campuses, it means empowering each other.
I have a genuine love for this organization because, like every other student leader, I have invested so much of myself in it. This conference was both a celebration of all our hard work and the start of something new. There is a saying that goes, “When you build, build for a long time. Build for a thousand years.” Years from now, may we not only remember the first Students Supporting Israel conference as a start to our own journeys, but also as one of many ways that we have paved the road for thousands of SSI leaders to come.Chantelle Moghadam is the Co-Founder and President of Students Supporting Israel at the University of Missouri and a recipient of the SSI National Activist of the Year Award.