I know downtown Denver like the back of my hand, but when I walked into the the first day of International Convention I felt like a small, overwhelmed, and super awkward freshman. I stood close to the friends I knew from my region as I saw others sprinting across the lobby and into the arms of teens from around the world. How do all of these people know each other? Fast forward five days and I was in tears at the thought of driving the 15 minutes home to go back to my regular routine and leave all of the incredible people I had met. It is generally uncommon for freshmen to attend IC for a host of reasons, but I can’t imagine my freshman year without it.
One of the biggest reasons freshmen are hesitant to attend IC is that they have not yet participated in a BBYO summer program. This is a valid reason. One of the most exciting things about IC is reconnecting with your friends from across the order (I can’t wait to see my CLTC 8 family!). But there are also plenty of opportunities to to meet new people.You will room with at least two people from different delegations who will introduce you to even more new friends.I was fortunate enough to go to IC with other freshman from my region, but if you can’t, do not let that scare you! Through pre-summits, programs, song sessions, and more you will have the chance to reach out to anyone and they will be excited to make a new friend too.
Last year, many of the speakers were connected to the recent mass shootings such as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. These inspiring and motivating speakers were able to connect with all of the 6,000 teens sitting in the audience. Gun violence is a prevalent issue in our society and solving it seems like a far-fetched and unattainable goal, yet the speakers at IC used it as an opportunity to empower all of us and at the same time create a close community. After IC, my top priority became making every member of my chapter feel like they have a place while trying to emulate that sense of community.
The travel and cost obligation of IC is intimidating and makes you think: is it even worth it? Traveling to and exploring a new city alongside your brother alephs and sister BBG’s is something that makes IC more than worth it! IC’s price tag makes this event a family decision and a huge commitment. If convincing a guardian is tricky for you, reach out to your advisors and other BBYO staff members so they can guide you through the decision process and also help to provide you with information on scholarship. IC has the potential to be one of the most memorable events of your high school career. It is worth it, and, if you take the extra step, your family will see that too.
Everything at IC, from the speakers to the teen-led programs, will give you a new perspective on Judaism, friendship, and your own identity. You will leave IC feeling like a strong and proud Jewish teen, but most importantly, you will be a part of our incredible BBYO community. The awkward freshman feeling will pass, and the memories will last a lifetime.
Abigail is a BBG from Tikvah BBG #2550 in the Rocky Mountain Region and she loves music theater and skiing!
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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