My Path in BBYO

May 22, 2024
Mihaela Grigorova

Sofia, Bulgaria

Class of 2027

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Hi, my name is Mika and if we have ever talked about BBYO, you probably know that I'm a huge ILN fan! 

I believe BBYO is a very unique organization - we grew up together but at the same time, each of us has our own path. This is my path, my story and I promise I'll try to tell it as summarized as possible. 

My journey started back in the first year I joined BBYO. I often ask myself - why did I do that? I was in seventh grade, about to turn 14, and most of my friends from the local Jewish community in Bulgaria were in BBYO, including my older sister. Every Wednesday since she joined, she would come home after a weekly program and I would ask her “How was it? What did you do? Who did you see?” and so many more questions, I never got enough! So when I was finally old enough, I didn't even hesitate to sign up for my region’s kickoff event. And that’s how it started - I spent (and keep spending) an hour every Wednesday in BBYO. I've seen three boards come and go, ran for board, cried at the life ceremonies for my friends, and got inducted as an official and golden member of my region. An honorary mention is also the 2021 European Pen Pals program. If I hadn’t signed up for it I would have (probably) never met Neda Zatezalo, another one of my closest friends and constant support. 

Me and my current 28th Regional N'siah Aglaya at International Convention 2024

So what does ILN have to do with this? The summer after 7th grade my 26th Regional Mazkirah, Aglaya, texted me and said “Hey, I think you’d be an awesome pick for ILN and it just opened for next year, check it out!” I had already read through some of the options after the school year ended (yay BBYO postpartum!) but everything was filled up already. So as you already guessed, I was super excited to have the opportunity to join for the next school year. I opened the link Aglaya had sent me and I saw all the committees, clubs, coordinators, and everything as we know it now. I applied for the membership committee and under clubs I saw another link that said something along the lines of “Start your own club here.” There were only five clubs back then so, of course, I was fascinated! I filled out a form with the idea of starting a book club. I love reading and I wanted to share my passion with others. I didn't hear anything about it for a long time and by September I had already forgotten. One morning, right before leaving for school, I opened my emails and saw one from Courtney (78th International Mazkirah) and Aaron (98th Grand Mazkir) which read “Welcome to ILN clubs” and that’s how my dream came true! 

Club leads onboarding call with Aaron Perrotta, Tj Katz, Sergio Meizner and Cayla Katz

To summarize, being accepted into the membership committee (22/23) and starting my very own club were my first steps into the international order. In that same first club, I met my best friend Alli Becker from KIO, the other side of the world, and I can't be thankful enough for having her in my life. Another amazing thing that started from this club is actually my second club, The Secret Garden, with my friend Diana Noteva. She has been my support and almost sister for so many years now. We got inducted into BBYO together and starting something so special with her was another dream come true. 

Finally meeting Alli Becker, my BBYO big sister, at International Convention 2024 

In the summer of 2023, when applications opened again, I was at a summer camp in Bulgaria. I spent 3 hours of chofesh filling out different forms with the mindset of “there are so many opportunities, I'll sign up for as many as I can and they’ll probably pick me for like three”… I was so wrong! 

September & regional elections came around, I ran for Mazkirah but lost. After the convention, I went home, started the new school year, and right before our kickoff event I got around 20 emails (I call it BBYO post💌) and apparently, even without being on board, I had a lot of work to do the following months because I got selected for almost everything I signed up for! Honestly, I can’t remember how many things there were originally but below is my bragging sheet, heart and soul, or maybe just about everything I did from September 2023 until now, April 2024

ILN Club Lead (The Book Buffet & The Secret Garden) 

On Demand clubs coordinator 

Shofar Editor-In-Chief 

IC Steering team (Shabbat, Separates and Zen Zone) 

Global Ambassadors Week steering team 

J-serve committee

Global Shabbat committee 

Global Israel Fellowship

Centennial Chapter Leads Cohort  

Anita M. Perlman BBG Academy 

Program Bank Committee 

IC 24 Press Corps Team 

Spring ELTI 24 Separates captain and steering

Now, as my sister has already graduated, I come home every Wednesday and she asks me “ How was it? What did you do? Who did you see?” and I can’t help but talk about it for hours. I can’t help but run from place to place on Sunday evening and say to my friends “Sorry guys, I can’t go out, I have BBYO calls” and why did I do it? Because I love every second of it! I have met and worked with so many amazing people and have gained so much experience. Just last week I got home from a convention I had been looking forward to for months and I cried so much because I realized I wouldn’t see my friends from BBYO Europe for such a long time after this. My grandma called my dad and asked how I was because she had heard about me being upset about the convention and he said “How could she be upset? That’s where she’s at her happiest. She loves those people” and I just replied “BBYO is like eating chocolate all day long”

Thank you BBYO for the friends for life, opportunities, and for the hope of doing so much more in the future. 

My name is Mihaela and I am a BBG from chapter Gideon, Bulgaria and I love cats!

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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