When I was a kid I remember very clearly reading the back of my mom’s shirts filled with what I thought at the time to be random nonsensical letters with a strange variety of characters that I did not recognize. Fast forward years later to 9th grade, I finally figured out that AZA, BBG, and BBYO weren’t just misprinted letters onto a shirt, they were letters that would come to represent who I was just as they had identified my family members in the past.
Second semester 8th grade is when I attended my first BBYO event. It was a virtual game night that, to be completely honest, sounded like it would be incredibly boring. However, my mom practically forced me to attend and I’m glad she did. While I may not have had the time of my life on that call, I met and was partnered with a girl that I’m still friends with, but more importantly I was introduced to the world of BBYO that my family so heavily cherished being apart of. 6 months later I was begging my mom to send me to my first regional convention and she happily obliged. I returned with a bagful of swag and a new appreciation and understanding of BBYO. I happily rocked said swag the next week at thanksgiving where my relatives exclaimed shock that I was old enough to be in BBYO and then regaled me with stories of their experiences in the organization. It all of a sudden felt like I was in a secret club and was cool enough to hear these memories that they had neglected telling me before.
This continued as I went on CLTC this most recent summer. I would text my aunt during our breaks and she would express her jealousy of me getting to be at CLTC and then would tell me how her BBYO summer friends have remained constant forces in her life. I got to hear what BBYO was like for her and she got to hear what it’s like for me.
These connections have strengthened my relationship with my family and with BBYO. I now spend about half my time trying to convince my mom to give up her old BBYO merch so that I can give it a new life and I spend the other half of my time working to try to convince my cousins to join the movement with me. BBYO is more than just a youth group you experience in high school for me. It’s a legacy and tradition that my family has passed down to me and I am honored to get to be a continuation of their old stories.
Shira Preis is a BBG who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and she loves to dance and write in her free time.
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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