A Virtual Convention Experience Like No Other

February 19, 2021
Gillian Beck

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Class of 2021

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January twenty-ninth through the thirty-first was three days of my life which I will never forget. Three days of my life which I will cherish forever. Three days of my life that changed my senior year entirely. As Regional N’siah of Lake Ontario Region, one of your predetermined responsibilities is to coordinate our annual Frat/Sis Convention. Of course, in a typical year, this convention would take place at a hotel in Toronto, providing local Jewish teens with the opportunity to gather together to strengthen our sisterhood and brotherhood. However, this year, due to the restrictions COVID-19 provided us with, we were unable to convene in person for this momentous occasion. Although this circumstance originally led us to feel sorrowful and to mourn the loss of our long-awaited convention, I believe this was one of the most incredible experiences, for it allowed us to strengthen our bonds with our fellow sisters, engage in innovative and insightful programming, as well as expand our regional leadership to unforeseen heights. Thus, the benefits of virtual convention programming truly outweigh the drawbacks.

I did not think it was possible to feel as connected to our sisterhood as I did this convention weekend. Each and every one of the BBG’s in LOR came together in a way that none of us deemed possible virtually. We were able to engage in meaningful BBG only programming, including Separates and a BBG business meeting, both of which I had the honor to spearhead. Personally, Separates is one of my favorite programs to plan and lead, for it allows me to truly feel the impact I am having on my sisterhood. This weekend’s Separates Program resonated with every BBG in attendance, and allowed them to feel rooted in their relationships with both one another and our movement as a whole! Furthermore, the BBG’s were able to enter our final day of programming, and attend our business meeting, with joyful attitudes and bright smiles, for they truly felt the attachment to our sisterhood that we all long for. This allowed for an extremely successful business meeting to occur, that of which is quite difficult to achieve on a virtual level. It was extremely evident throughout Frat/Sis that our sisterhood was blossoming and flourishing like never seen before, and that the virtual aspect of our convention was not stopping us from having the most memorable weekend we could.

Programming for under one hundred people in person is extremely difficult, let alone programming for over one hundred people online! However, our incredible steering team was able to accomplish the impossible! The programmatic aspects of our convention were truly outstanding, with both innovative and engaging programming occurring at all times of the day! We included never seen before events and provided our participants with extraordinary packages filled to the top with the items they would need in order to have the best experience possible. Using these items we were able to host Bob Ross Painting Style programs, Master Chef programs and so many other incredible experiences! We were also able to throw our annual Beauheart Ball Semi-Formal through the virtual platform. Expectations for this event were initially quite low, for people did not believe that this event could be transformed to accommodate a virtual convention. However, all apprehensions were diminished the minute that our participants joined the program, for this year's Beauheart Ball truly was as unique and special as an in-person event might be! On all programmatic fronts, we received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, and I truly believe that the programming for Frat/Sis 2021 was as amazing, if not more wonderful, than in-person convention programming!

Leadership is a strange concept in these unprecedented times, for we are having to redefine what it truly means to be a leader. In the past, being a leader in our movement meant planning programs, facilitating events, and fulfilling the criteria of a board member or other leadership position. However, in our ever-changing world, the meaning of leadership in BBYO is changing as well! In order to be a strong leader you must not only speak in front of a crowd, but you must be innovative and clever. No longer is it enough to simply fulfill our typical tasks, we must elevate these tasks in order to make them as enjoyable as they might be in a typical year. People are not easily impressed by virtual programming, for we have been utilizing it since last March, thus we must think outside of the box if we wish for our opportunities to be engaging! I am more than certain that our leadership for our Frat/Sis Convention did exactly this! Not only was our programming outstanding, but the way that our leaders were able to step out of their comfort zones, and arrange for new and unconventional initiatives was absolutely phenomenal. Through this experience, Lake Ontario Region’s leaders were able to expand their horizons and become stronger, more diligent individuals. Therefore, not only was our regional convention successful because of the enjoyment of our participants, but it was also successful because of the development of leadership across LOR!

In conclusion, LOR’s 2021 Frat/Sis Convention was a booming success. Even in the midst of such chaos, we were able to coordinate a convention that surpassed all expectations, and was memorable for both the participants and leaders. Through strengthening our sisterhood, hosting engaging programming, and maturing our leadership, Frat/Sis Convention was able to connect our brothers and sisters like we have never seen before. The world is a difficult place right now; however, the difficulty is merely an invitation for innovation, and that is exactly what we did with our Frat/Sis Convention!

Gillian Beck is a BBG from L'chaim BBG #2444 in Lake Ontario Region Canada who loves animals.

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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