Global, Israel, Politics

Opening session, introductions, and surprises

j_street_largeThe J Street U opening program has just finished.  Technically, this program begins and ends a day earlier than the regular J Street conference, so our individual programming takes place throughout the day tomorrow.  In the evening, we join the conference, and go through their programming on Monday.  We then have the option of our own advocacy session on Capitol Hill, or staying in the regular conference for Tuesday and going to their advocacy session on Wednesday.  I’ve elected to take this option, and so, it turns out, has one of our guest bloggers, Moriel Rothman, whom I bumped into at the beginning of the opening program.  We turn out to have a lot in common (such as us both beatboxing), and we’re spending some time talking about how to cover the events here meaningfully as we go through the program.
Tonight has been very constructive.  I’m looking forward to crashing at the hostel a few blocks away where a lot of us are staying.  Tomorrow’s an even busier day.
There’s a palpable sense of excitement in the air.  But people are surprisingly level-headed.  No one’s flying off the handle with radicalism or unfounded idealistic dreams of changing the world right away.  But there’s real hope here.  We heard some speakers talk about the role college campuses play in the shaping and realization of U.S. Middle Eastern policy; it’s empowering to have people address you like that.  So tomorrow, when we actually make good on these ideas, and have real discussions with real facts, it’s going to come home – we have a job to do, and we’re here to learn how to do it.
I’ll continue to tweet the student and regular conferences.
Cross-posted to my blog.

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