It is quite easy to speak about your own experiences; however, it can be quite difficult to speak to others' experiences. Throughout the entirety of IC, I reached out to people far and wide in order to hear their insight on this year’s convention. Whether they were from North America, Africa, or Australia, everyone had their own perspectives and opinions, and I could get a true understanding of this experience at large.
As someone from Canada, I had my own opinions on IC as a whole, as well as the individual programs I got to attend. I had a unique perspective due to my role as a steering member, and more specifically as an Operations Administrative Assistant. However, I want to share the outlook of another teen in my region, who also had experience as a steering member. Hope Schrier, a BBG from Lake Ontario Region stated, “Even though we were not able to gather in person this year, this weekend truly felt like we were together! I’m so thankful that in the middle of a pandemic, BBYO still made sure we got to be together!” Through this declaration, it is clear that Hope enjoyed the virtual experience and was grateful for the opportunities it provided her with amidst the current chaos of the world.
Although the United States is a close relative of Canada, the way in which BBYO functions in our neighbouring country is quite different. Amanda Wendler, a B’nai B'rith Girl from the Greater Jersey Hudson River Region stated, “I think that IC 2021 has far surpassed my own, and many others' expectations. I’ve been so impressed with the level of programming and the speakers! I think one reason I’ve appreciated IC so much this year is because I didn’t come into it with the mindset of “this IC is virtual, so it will be bad.” This IC can’t be compared in any way to past conventions, and that’s it’s strength–this is an entirely new experience, and on its own, is amazing. I’ve genuinely had such a fun time and experienced the International Order in such a different and rewarding way.” Amanda’s perspective makes it quite evident that the attendees' opinions were reframed as soon as they were able to experience the magic that was IC 2021.
Migrating slightly over from New Jersey to Brooklyn, Aleph Elias Cohen of Big Apple Region had his own attitude towards this year's convention. Elias stated, “In the weeks leading up to IC, I kept hearing about other Jewish organizations who just didn’t bother with having virtual conventions this year, so it makes it all the more impressive that BBYO was able to pull it off. I met even more people this year than I did at previous conventions simply because everything was so accessible. It was amazing to be able to work with a dedicated team of steerers that all had a shared value of making this convention actually happen. I think we all bonded over that drive and ambition. As an operations admin, this was my first time taking on a leadership position outside of my region. It was crazy to see all of the moving parts behind a single convention website. It really made me appreciate the complexity of BBYO and the many layers it contains!” Elias’ viewpoint demonstrates the true impact that our virtual convention had on its participants. Through his perspective, this opportunity allowed individuals to create connections with teens across the globe. It also indicates that those holding leadership opportunities were able to truly immerse themselves in the experience, and to feel proud of their contribution.
The fun did not stop in North America, for our convention reached teens worldwide. One teen in particular, Lior Kolman hailing from South Africa, had a global outlook on the experience. She exclaimed, “IC 2021. United We Rise. As an IC admin I had a vision of what IC would look like this year, but it was so much more. The experience has truly changed my life forever. A few of my best moments were meeting loads of people on Meetup and programs, and always having to answer questions about South Africa! Netta Barzilai, Diplo, Rebel Wilson, Pete Davidson, and all of our guests and speakers absolutely blew my mind. Opening Ceremonies and State of the Order were emotional because I could feel the energy of our Movement, and these events truly highlighted everything that BBYO stands for. This was BBYO South Africa’s first ever IC, and I can proudly say we have made our mark!” Lior highlights the special moments of our movement, and how we are able to connect with individuals from across the world. Through this convention, we worked to ensure that no one felt alone, and that everyone felt as though they were one piece of a worldwide puzzle.
To conclude, through the perspectives of various teens across the globe, we were able to truly witness the magnificence of the convention we put together. Whether you were tuning in from North America, South Africa or elsewhere, you felt included, and felt just as though you were participating with your fellow peers in-person. The feeling of sisterhood and brotherhood that were produced through this unique opportunity were unlike any other, and because of this, our Movement is stronger than ever. Although we have been living in unprecedented times, nothing can stop BBYO from doing what it does best creating a home for Jewish teens across the globe, together! Together we have triumphed, and together we have succeeded. United We Rise!
Gillian Beck is a BBG from L'chaim BBG #2444 in Lake Ontario Region Canada who loves animals.
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