The 3rd Annual Youth Summit was held in Washington, DC November 2-5. Around 30 young adults between the ages of 21-35 participated, making it the largest Youth Summit yet. President Hanna Hanania held a Club President’s Retreat and Board of Director’s meeting that weekend as well, which gave the youth an opportunity to mingle with older members of the Federation.
The youth, board members and residents of the local Ramallah community were on Capitol Hill bright and early Friday morning. There were 11 different meetings held across all participants, allowing the young adults to speak with their respective state representative or senator (or their staff) about current legislation, the conflict and how to make an impact on a national level. The meetings were all very different, some more successful than others, but regardless, it gave the participants an opportunity to begin an important conversation. It also proved to Congress that we are here and we’re ready to fight for what we believe in. I’m hopeful that this will become a standard component to the weekend each year. Across all meetings, the message was unanimous – we need to do more and show up in order to compete with our Israeli counterparts.
The next stop was the State Department, where we met with Michael Ratney, who was sympathetic to our cause and explained what actions he believes will be effective. We ended the day at the Palestinian Embassy, where we had lunch and met with Palestinian Ambassador, Dr. Husam Zomlot. It was a very successful and eventful day in DC. I think that the opportunity to speak with so many officials sparked perseverance in many of us.
We continued our theme of political activism on Saturday morning. We began the day with two speakers – Nabeela Barbari, Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of Civil Rights, and Laila Mokhiber, Director of Communications at UNWRA. Nabeela spoke to the group on effecting change on a national level, while Laila provided numerous resources on how to educate ourselves on the conflict and get involved on a local level.
The Summit is focused around political activism, which is a prominent reason why we host it in DC each year. However, many of our participants also aspire to become leaders within the Federation, so the second half of the day was focused around leadership. Salah Hassan, Professor of Branding and Marketing at George Washington University, explained how we can better brand our organization and connect people to our culture, while David Joubran, CEO of Acumen Solutions, spoke to leadership in general.
During lunch, we had the opportunity to join the board meeting and share what we did throughout the weekend. This time with the board was valuable; it was a great opportunity to be able to speak with many of our board members, express our concerns, share our ideas and discuss how we can get more involved in the AFRP.