The Impact of a Virtual (First) Convention from an AIT’s Perspective

November 9, 2020
Madison Harr

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Class of 2022

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What do you think of when you think back to your first convention? Were you nervous? Were you excited? Did you meet some amazing people? For me, it was all of the above. Granted, it was not virtual, it was in person, like the usual convention experience.

My MIT/AIT Convention in 2018 was one of the best experiences of my life. Being away from home and spending a weekend with 100 other Jewish teens, who were similar to me, was an experience that was incomparable to any other experience.

My brother, Max Harr, an 8th grader and an AIT from Hank Greenberg AZA #60104 in Charlotte, North Carolina, attended his first convention from October 18 to October 20 in 2020. This was the Eastern Region New Member Convention, and it was all virtual. Virtual experiences are much different than in-person, as you may know. It is hard to interact and truly experience what BBYO is actually like through Zoom. On the Saturday night of this convention, the family of the attendees were invited to have Havdalah with them. While I was sitting with my brother taking part in Havdalah, I saw how different it was from in-person to virtual. I realized that one of the reasons I enjoy in-person conventions so much is because of the feeling of being  surrounded by all of your closest friends which you can't beat. Online programming just doesn’t have the same feeling but I know how important these experiences still are.

Since my brother was new to BBYO during the pandemic, I interviewed him about how the convention went from his point of view.

What was the most exciting part of this convention?

Max: Either getting officially inducted into AZA or spending time with my sisters during Havdalah.

What do you feel would be different if it was in person, instead of virtual?

Max: Everything! Shabbat and Havdalah would be a lot more enjoyable because I get to be with the group and we all get to say the prayers together. We are also limited to certain activities in virtual conventions and I bet in person we would not be looking at a screen for everything we do. I still really enjoyed the experience though!

What was the most interesting thing you learned at this convention?

Max: Definitely the summer programs like Camp BBYO and CLTC. These sound interesting to me because they are good ways to introduce me into BBYO, help me make friends, and have a lot of fun!

If you could describe your experience in one word, what would it be?

Max: Unexpected!

Although Max would have preferred it to be in person, he definitely saw the bright side and loved his convention experience!

Madison Harr is a BBG from Ohavim BBG #418, and she has a dog named after Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

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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