It is safe to say none of us planned 2020 to be this way. We’ve all had to adapt to these changes so quickly. From cancelling entire sports seasons, to online schooling, and from being forced to enjoy BBYO from home, to not being able to meet up at Perlman over the summer, 2020 has been quite a year for us all. Most of us have followed news of the virus in America, whether we live there or not, but what has it been like for me, a BBYO member living on the other side of the world?
I live in Melbourne, the capital of the state of Victoria, which has been the Australian state most affected by Coronavirus. Almost immediately after the delegation landed back in Australia following the International Convention in Dallas, things escalated very, very quickly. We didn’t even have a single program before things closed. Our school year starts in late January, so going to IC meant missing 10 days of classes. Although we already knew about the virus, nobody knew what measures would be taken in Australia to stop its spread.
It was just before our board elections, which we had planned to hold as a face to face event, that a lockdown was announced, starting March 24th. All of our plans went out the window, and BBYO Australia had to go virtual.
We then started planning out zoom programs for the first time. BBYO in Melbourne is still quite new and fairly small. Even though it’s a bit of a novel concept among Australian Jewish teens, we were ready to make it work. With the help and support from the USA and other international chapters, we took notes and started to adapt our programs.
Early on in quarantine, we started a pen pal program with a BBG chapter in Greater Atlanta Region, Lehavah BBG. We got to chat on Zoom with the girls, connect with new people and found a way of making new friends from the comfort of our own homes, 16000 km apart. We then held our first Zoom event, a Havdalah service that was accompanied by Eric and Happie, who were kind enough to wake up extra early to sing for us. Other virtual events we held included an international collaboration with BBYO South Africa and China, a Latke Fry-Off, a Games Night, and our kickoff for 5781, a Virtual Escape Room.
These months of isolation have taught me that everything can change overnight. In March, our lives changed completely and we all had to learn to adapt. None of us were truly prepared for it, but despite being stuck at home, 2020 has been one of the biggest yet for BBYO Australia. We've managed to create a list of prospects with over 250 people on it. We’ve been able to get people to discover BBYO through a screen. Most of all, we have a new appreciation for the little things that we haven’t been able to do for months: meeting in large groups, going to parties, and slouching around a table at the JCC with other members of BBYO.
For the first time in 2020, we are planning a face-to-face event—a beach party! Restrictions have just been eased in Victoria, and we have a green light to meet again in person. Needless to say, our members and prospects are excited! I am incredibly lucky to be on the board with so many hard working members, and an advisor who always motivates us to do our best to see BBYO grow.
Despite all the obstacles along the way, our chapter made the best of the situation, and we look forward to more open summer months from now on.
Luisa is a BBG from BBYO Australia and is a pro at switching languages between sentences.
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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