12 teens from Columbus joined nearly 2,000 teens from around the globe, including 39 members of the KIO regional BBYO, to attend the 2014 BBYO International Convention. This year’s theme, Welcome Home, featured BBYO Stand UP Day, a day where teens participated in CPR training and made teddy bears for charity, an inspiring video message to the teens from Benjamin Netanyahu, bonding field trips, and a few surprise guests, including musician Aloe Blacc and keynote speaker, Sheryl Sandberg.
The event drew teens from 20 countries to Dallas, TX, where, from February 13-17, teens engaged with each other and a variety of speakers and facilitators to learn more about such topics as “Overcoming Negativity and Maintaining a Positive Self-Image,” “Life Skills for Leaders,” and “Avoiding the Madness: A Jewish Perspective on Finding Direction in Daily Life.”
Holocaust survivor Max Glauben shared a firsthand account of his experience with the teens to help them connect to a tragic past in a more personal way. One of the highlights of the event was a talk by Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook on how her early experience in BBYO helped shape who she is today and define her as a leader of tomorrow. Eric Fingerhut of Hillel also spoke to the teens.
Regional Godol Sam Dolen was honored to serve on the IC steering committee, where he participated in planning the event and bringing in several of its speakers. Dolen said he enjoyed putting together the programming because, “I can use what I learned on the committee to help influence the quality of programming for my region.”
During BBYO Stand UP Day, the teens gathered together to create a Public Service Announcement for the American Heart Association. But especially moving for the nearly 2,000 teens was getting to spend a communal Shabbat together followed by Limud study sessions.
The International Convention is important for BBYO members to experience. The IC focuses on advocacy, building friendships, and showing BBYO team spirit. For Dolen, “seeing my friends from BBYO summer programs was very exciting. It was good getting to spend some quality time with them.”
During BBYO’s biggest event of the year, teens get to see what BBYO Director Mark Moscardino described as the “big picture of what they are a part of and where they fit in to BBYO. They are seeing the largest teen movement on the largest scale possible. That invigorates them to come back to their chapters and do amazing things. How can we bring that spirit to our regional convention?,” said Moscardino of the teens who are already preparing for the upcoming regional BBYO convention.