The first Jookender event I attended was in the Fall of September 2017. Hearing about the September family camp by word of mouth, I instantly jumped at the opportunity to explore both my Russian and Jewish heritage in a community of like-minded people. As the September family camp that year went on, I found myself engaging in activities that I had never expected to be a part of. Although Jewish, my family is not one that practices that faith, and the opportunity to explore the cultural traditions of my heritage was one that I was duly grateful for. However, perhaps most memorable to me is the sense of community that the Jookender experience offered me. Even though I was new, and had little experience with the Jewish culture of the camp, I instantly felt welcome and trusted as a member of the community. At that first camp, I formed lasting friendships with other Russian-Jewish high-schoolers and was able to surround myself with like-minded friends. It is this shared bond, and new friends, that has brought me back to the camp 3 more times.
This is, in fact, the primary reason behind my application for this program. The opportunity to not only participate but also contribute to these experiences as a volunteer has been, in and of its own right, highly rewarding. At the end of each family camp, as I look out at all of the participants smiling and waving one another goodbye, I realize that all of my time spent working with the younger children and assisting in the smooth operation of the camp’s activities leaves a great many people longing for the next camp. By contributing, and doing my best to ensure a great experience to all participants, I feel as though I am able to give back to the community that welcomed me almost 2 years ago. The experiences that I have within the Jookender community are those that I would like to enhance and share with others of Russian-Jewish background. By engaging in this program, I believe that I would have the opportunity to give back to the Jookender community, as well as gain valuable experience in management, marketing, fundraising, and leadership.
This brings me to the second reason for my application: the experience. It is truly rare that one will find an internship program that goes high schoolers the chance to engage and learn from real-world experience. While school provides lots of information that helps one develop his/her interests and knowledge, there is little tangible experience to be found in high school classrooms. The fact of the matter is that only real-world experience in a student’s areas of interest will provide them with the necessary skills to succeed in their chosen careers. Personally, I have always found my interests to align in the areas of the social sciences. The worlds of business, government, and politics have always been those that truly excite and motivate me to learn more about them. Much of my extracurricular focus is on these areas with Speech and Debate allowing me to explore my interests in government and politics and DECA, as well as the website I write for, Businesses With Stories, giving me the chance to learn more about business and its related areas. As such, I believe that this Teen Entrepreneurship Program is a perfect opportunity for me to gain real, tangible experience in the areas of business management, marketing, and social initiatives.
Ultimately, the Jookender community has had a great impact on my life and connection with my heritage. By participating in this unique program, I would be able to not only give more to the Russian-Jewish community but also gain valuable experience in the areas I plan on pursuing in both college and my career.