Planning Failures: Serendipity

March 1, 2022
Ivan Stern

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Class of 2023

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At BBYO, we focus on giving meaningful experiences to each of the world's young Jews, experiences that connect them with their roots, stimulate their social conscience, and develop a globalizing perspective. For those of us who have dedicated time and effort to create those moments, we believe that creating a plan for these moments ensures their meaningfulness.

But it's not always like this.

Last term, my chapter chose the StandUp cause of home-cooking and delivering food to the needy of our city. Our idea had been to deliver our ready-made food to a group of adults from an organization so that they could take care of distributing it.

The representatives of this organization didn't appear on time. On the topic of inherent irresponsibility, they hadn't even answered the phone that day. It was a Thursday at 7 pm and we had 15 teenagers carrying 100 hot food bags on a corner, waiting for someone not knowing what to do.

I don't want to lie; a little stress, disappointment, and anxiety took over us. We looked at each other's faces with the Advisor, the chapter N'siah, and Sh'licha with the same thought: what were we supposed to do?

We went ahead distributing those bags and boxes and faced that adversity. We went to a nearby church where several homeless people go to ask for help, and we were the ones who extended a hand to them; we became friends with some policemen who escorted us along the route and helped us to help more people as well.

Best of all, that way we could really see the glow of excitement on people's faces as they received, perhaps, their first plate of hot food of their day, their expressions of appreciation, and their displays of happiness. This is how we were really able to realize the importance of being empathetic and supportive and that sometimes the only thing left is to get our hands dirty to have a true connection with reality and be those leaders that we should be.

Thus, our experience was a truly meaningful experience for our young people and satisfaction filled us all even when we had completely gone off the script and speculations. We call it serendipity: the good things that happen to us while we are planning what we "have to do."

I invite you all to realize how it happened to me that sometimes not everything must be 100% planned, that we can open ourselves to improvisation and that if things don't go as written it doesn't mean it went wrong.

Ivan Stern is an Aleph from BBYO: Argentina who love having long talks, exchanging ideas, and socializing.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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