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Identity

How BBYO Has Influenced My Life

October 25, 2018

Belgrade, Serbia

Coming from a small community of just 2000 Jews, it’s really hard for me, as a 17-year-old Jewish girl in Serbia, to find someone my age to relate to. While growing up, there weren’t many opportunities for me to explore Judaism, other than Sunday school and a summer camp I attended. When I became a BBYO member, I finally got to experience what being a Jewish teen is really like.

I was inducted into BBYO at our first convention in 2016, joining my sister (now alumna), who was serving as a regional board member at the time. BBYO had so much to offer, and I never imagined that it would be possible for me to learn and experience that much, considering I do not live in that big nor developed of a country.

I gained so much knowledge that would help me later on, such as planning and leading programs, exploring Judaism, and much more. I’m so thankful because BBYO gave me so many meaningful experiences. Because of that, I aspire to grow my chapter and region; I believe that every Jewish teen deserves to experience the amazing world that BBYO is.

Through leading and attending BBYO programs, I started feeling more connected to my friends in the community. I also got to connect with teens all over the world who are just like me, and who I can relate to on a different level than I can with my school friends.

BBYO has helped shape me into the person I am today, has helped me find interest in topics I never knew I would be interested in and has changed my point of view on many things.

Being a BBYO Balkans member is one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and I’m so excited to serve as the 6th Regional Morah and represent my community. Hopefully, I can inspire teens to join BBYO because being a part of it has definitely changed my life, and I believe it could change theirs too.

Ognjena Ratkovic is a BBG from BBYO Balkans, and she lives for all things pop culture, cute animals, and social media.

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