Australasian Union of Jewish Students

LDP Testimonials

LDP Testimonials

"I could feel myself changing from the very first day and I knew that these changes were for the better."

AUJS LDP Testimonial by Samantha Khavin, New South Wales Vice President 2015. 

“AUJS’ premier international program”; a phrase that is constantly used to describe our Leadership Development Program, is an expression that I once believed was becoming anachronistic through overuse. However, only when I began my LDP journey did I truly understand what was meant by these words. This program is absolutely unparalleled in its ability to teach valuable leadership skills; challenge both organisational and personal values; inspire participants to implement excellent systems and strategies discovered overseas; and create unbreakable bonds, which serves to create dynamic working relationships and deep personal connections between participants. 

Personally, I was always incredibly connected to the Australian Jewish community. I approached my Jewish heritage with pride and was always quick to volunteer for leadership opportunities throughout my time in high school. However, once I entered university, and joined AUJS, I began to experience a great variety of diverse opinions, some of which challenged my views and others that I adopted into my own belief system. It was this burning desire to learn about other communities and to continue to have my beliefs both affirmed and challenged that inspired me to apply for LDP in the first instance. 

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I gained something completely different from every city that we visited. In Berlin, where our journey began, I learned so much about the importance of tradition and the preservation of Jewish history. This was something that I could certainly relate to, given my education about the Holocaust. Jerusalem echoed these sentiments of tradition, though was much more welcoming to new ideas than diaspora cities I have lived in and visited. The city was so vibrant and deeply spiritual that one could not help but think existentially at every moment we were immersed within it. Comparatively, Tel Aviv was incredibly encouraging of interfaith activities and embracing the inspiring Jewish culture, as well as the religious aspects. New York was a definite change of pace, with its effervescence positively pouring from every skyscraper. We learned of the progressive nature of the New York (and American) Jewish community and undoubtedly took many lessons from every organisation we spoke with that will guide our work within the Australasian Jewish community. Our last stop was Washington D.C., where we were fortunate enough to meet with many political and philanthropic organisations that definitely inspired us to think more critically about AUJS as it currently exists, what is very positive about the organisation and where we could stand to improve. 

Absolutely equivalent to the educational journey that I undertook on LDP was my personal journey. I could feel myself changing from the very first day and I knew that these changes were for the better. On LDP, I experienced myself becoming a more open person who is open to change and who is willing to learn from those who hold opposing views in order to have a well-rounded approach in all that I do. 

Unparalleled to anything I gained on the trip were the friendships that I cultivated with other participants.  I had the very fortunate opportunity to be exposed to a large variety of opinions and value systems, that made for many diverse discussions and unique relationships that will most certainly carry on beyond the trip.

I cannot recommend this program enough to potential leaders and change makers within the local Jewish community. For me, it was definitely a necessity in order to facilitate my learning and development as a leader. I was fortunate enough to be selected to partake in the exciting and unique experiences that AUJS and its partners provided and I can certainly say that I am a better leader, and person, for it. 

AUJS definitely would not be able to boast about the quality of its leadership team if not for the large amount of LDP participants holding executive positions each year. The program fostered a deep love, appreciation and respect for the Australasian Jewish community within me and gave me the tools I require in order to improve it in whatever ways I choose. I can only hope that future participants will gain from LDP the knowledge and skills that I managed to glean, and suck the marrow out of the entire experience. It truly is one in a million.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to the JCA Millie Phillips Jewish Education Fund for enabling me to participate on this once in a lifetime experience.

Samantha Khavin (pictured right) travelled to Berlin, New York, Washington DC, and Israel during her LDP journey in 2014-15. She returns to Australia as NSW Vice President of AUJS.