By Ben Rodgers ‘15
While most students spend spring break by relaxing at home or traveling to beaches, senior Joe Sorenson was learning about U.S.-Israel relations.
Sorenson, president of Simpson’s Student Government Association, attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference (known as AIPAC) in Washington D.C.
The AIPAC Conference is held annually to discuss relations between Israel and the United States. More than 14,000 people participated this year, including 2,000 students and 217 student body presidents.
“One thing I really enjoyed was being able to talk to other student body presidents from around the country,” Sorenson said. “We were able to see what was going on at each other’s college, what our differences are, what our similarities are, and how they run their student bodies.”
Sorenson and the other student body leaders were invited to participate in this event by New York businessman Martin Geller, who paid their travel costs.
“Marty is a big supporter of strong U.S.-Israel relations, and he wants get young leaders out to listen and support the issues,” Sorenson said.
Sorenson said he enjoyed hearing the various speakers, including President Obama, the president and prime minister of Israel, leading representatives and senators, and other prominent political figures.
He also attended sessions that covered a number of topics, including renewable energy technology, what was described as the radical Muslim movement in the U.S., and how to start a political career.
Sorenson and other participants from the Des Moines area were invited to meet and discuss what they learned with Iowa’s two senators and two U.S. representatives from the state.
“This helped renew my faith in government, by knowing that you can actually get involved in it,” Sorenson said.
Sorenson said it was a productive way to spend his spring break.
“I didn’t know much about the issue until I went out there and participated in the conference,” he said. “It was also a lot of fun to be a part of the political environment and work with 14,000 people who all care about this issue strongly.”