When Sam Adelsberg, C’10, first talked politics with Bill Clinton in 2005, he was working as an intern at the Clinton Foundation. At a meeting where the interns were able to ask the former President questions, Adelsberg asked Clinton to share his thoughts on how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Clinton said improving the Palestinian economy would be a major inroad to peace.
“I had never encountered the conflict from this dimension,” says Adelsberg, an Orthodox Jew who studied the Talmud in a yeshiva during a gap year before coming to Penn. “It was always us vs. them.”
That encounter inspired Adelsberg to join with two other Penn students and a Penn alum to found LendforPeace.org, a nonprofit organization that enables individuals to make small loans through a web portal to specific micro-entrepreneurs in the Palestinian Territories. LendforPeace.org is supported in part by a $2,500 grant from the Clinton Global Initiative. Since its inception, LendforPeace.org, with local partners, has provided nearly $50,000 in micro-loans for micro-entrepreneurs.
On April 16, Adelsberg was a panelist at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), established in 2007 to engage student leaders on college campuses around the world. Each year, CGI U hosts a meeting for students, national youth organization members and university officials to discuss solutions to pressing global issues. The third annual CGI U meeting was held April 16 to 18 at the University of Miami. Nearly 1,500 attendees, including 80 university presidents, attended.
Adelsberg served as a panelist at a plenary session moderated by President Clinton. U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, singer Usher Raymond and an MIT student will also sit on the panel.
In the last three years, Adelsberg has spent twelve months living in Israel as well as five months studying Arabic in Egypt. Before coming to Penn, he studied in Cairo, playing basketball at the American University where he was the first Jewish player on the team, earning him the nickname “the Hebrew Hammer.” After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Modern Middle East Studies and Philosophy, Politics and Economics, he plans to pursue a Masters of Philosophy in Politics at Cambridge University.
To watch footage from the event, click here.
Originally published on April 16, 2010