Inspiring words for the upcoming SSI National Conference in Atlanta, GA
This spring, the Students Supporting Israel movement announced its first National Conference since the pandemic that will be taking place at Kennesaw State University.
As the founder of this campus’s SSI chapter, this announcement was especially exciting for me as I remember my first tabling event, the first big event, and the first time making coalitions with other clubs on campus. Now, this will be the first time ever having the SSI National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia!
Attending the SSI conference for the first time fills you with anticipation, motivation, and wonder. As you walk in with two or three SSI board members from your chapter, you look around and realize everyone in the room is in the same shoes as you. It is a wonderfully surreal experience. Every student there is operating under the same name and for the same mission of Students Supporting Israel. There is nothing like it. You see Ilan Sinelnikov, the President and Founder of SSI walking around greeting everyone including yourself, so intentional to be there for each student. All of the sudden, everyone is sitting at their tables and you feel like you are about to hit the field for a championship game with Ilan and the national team as our coaches. Everyone is united, excited, and exchanging new ideas on how to make SSI bigger and better on campus, how to better portray Israel and tell the story of Zionism. We hear from inspiring, strong speakers who empower us throughout the program, exchange stories of struggle and success, eat delicious food, and grow together as one movement. The bigger chapters help the smaller chapters with ideas on how to grow, and the smaller chapters remind the bigger chapters about the unique challenges facing a small team tasked with a major goal. Everyone helps each other to be successful on their campuses.
When I told the current president of SSI at Kennesaw State University the location of the 2022 conference, he was filled with empowerment. According to Eli Rickles,
“I consider it an important responsibility to be President of SSI at KSU since I aim to continue the momentum of former President and current Director of Campus Programming Rebekah Mann, who worked tirelessly to foster. While KSU is not an anti-Israel campus by any means, I feel it is important to educate my fellow students on why it is important that Israel’s right to exist continues to be recognized and actualized. I am excited that KSU will host the SSI National Conference this August!”
The past SSI Conference, right before the pandemic, was held at Columbia University. In some ways, it feels like so long ago, and in other ways, it feels like yesterday. I had the huge honor to receive the “Activist of the Year” award. In the speech I prepared, not knowing I was receiving this award, I shared,
“The key is to keep pushing even when you do not see results right away because you know you are investing in something that goes way beyond us, you know that you are investing in college students today and college students to come.”
The vision that I had in 2019 has grown tremendously. I had no idea that I would be on the SSI National Team today. I am thrilled that the SSI Conference will take place where it all began for me, and I am excited to welcome the students to Kennesaw State University!