This pandemic has changed the way we do many things in our everyday lives. From the presence of masks to hanging out with friends, our lives have shifted in a way that will have an impact on the world for a very long time.
This has been evident over the past 11 months in BBYO. We managed to transition to online events with incredible ease. We set new standards for programming and siblinghood in a very much digital age. International Convention shows the culmination of a worldwide effort to connect in difficult times. Our communities, regions, and chapters have managed, holding conventions virtually. International moments have happened over a Zoom screen. But an event of this magnitude? International Convention is THE Event of the Year. It’s what you aspire to attend as an eighth grader. It’s what you count down the days to as you leave your summer program.
Everyone involved has managed to make this a beautiful event. IC has completely surpassed expectations. There have been programs upon programs with so many wonderful speakers. Breakout rooms are actually interactive, as everyone has made the conscious choice to show up to the program instead of sitting in their bed on TikTok. ‘Jewish Geography’ has been the cause of so much wasted time, but has brought so many together. We have laughed through weird technology malfunctions and asked questions to people who are invested in teaching us about their passions. IC has brought speakers to us who might not have been able to make it to IC otherwise.
Over the past few days, many have spoken about how much we have grown through these virtual experiences. But, in my opinion, the most amazing growth will occur in the lead up to the next IC, to coming together in person again. What can we do with these newfound skills?
Virtual Programming has shown us that there is no limit to what we can do. Our ability to adapt and overcome the obstacles thrown at us will only make future ICs that much better. Now, if need be, we know how to keep those breakout rooms entertaining. We know how to keep people talking IC with fun phrases they saw their friends using (Ahavah @#)# and #jlabwins, anyone?) even if they didn't get to stand next to them or hug them. We know how to bring summer program hype into a virtual space. We’ve learned how to program around time zones and language barriers. And we can still plan night time events that make people sob. (My theory is that any BBYO event starting past 8 pm WILL make you cry).
While researching for this piece, I talked to Ariel Guttman, a friend of mine who steered this IC. It’s her first IC, and I have never seen her more animated than when she talks about steering and this organization. In our conversation, she spoke about steering in general and steering virtually. She steered our region’s Fall Convention, so this isn’t her first rodeo. As she put it, “Virtual IC taught me that I can handle ANYTHING. If I can deal with tech difficulties, wifi issues, and confusion with a new platform, I have gained valuable skills to deal with any mistakes or troubles along the way. “
Virtual IC will also change the way we interact with one another. After this past year, I know that seeing my friends in person will be a changed experience. Being able to sing with Happie and Hunker alongside my friends from around the world will be something I get to really, truly experience for the first time. Everyone at IC 2022 will be so grateful to be there because of the year that we lost.
Sitting for the State of the Order today has shown me how true all of this is to our Movement. This pandemic has changed BBYO, but for the better. Just like those before us who were faced with hard times, we used this opportunity to better ourselves and strengthen our Movement. We now know how difficult it is to lose a Perlman Summer and an in-person International Convention. As we face these things together, we grow together. We will heal together, and we will come together again.
Together, we can do anything, handle anything, change anything. This IC has shown that no matter what happens, we will get through it, and come out the other side together. We can only grow from tough times.
Sydney Levine is a BBG living on Long Island, New York who is obsessed with bucket hats.
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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