“International” isn't just a word we just throw around when talking about our movement, it has a greater meaning and impact . International Convention gathers more than 300+ teens from outside of North America, and before and during convention we get to learn, experience and practice our Judaism in so many different and beautiful ways.
Where else would you find a teen from Macedonia, who has never experienced a real service, a teen from Argentina, who lives in a mostly sephardic community, and a teen from North America, that belongs to a Modern Ortodox movement, all praying together, making connections and friendships that last a life time?
International Convention does not only represent international diversity, teen leaders work very hard on making BBYO a safe space for everyone who joins us. Teens and staff are always making sure that teens feel welcomed and that they have all of the support they need to experience the best weekend ever. BBYO’s inclusive culture, and seeing so many teens wanting to come back every year makes us better and stronger.
My community and region is very small, and never in my life had I imagined that there would be a way to find and express myself before I came to IC. I never knew services could be made to tunes of 2000s songs, or Lady Gaga. Coming from a relatively tiny Eastern European country, where being Jewish is not even a thing, the culture shock is overwhelming but also incredibly exciting. The Denver Jewish community was so accepting and nice, and we got to meet them during the Global Week experience. Global week is a time before IC when international delegates stayed with host families and got to know each other as well as Denver teens, and the amazing community. Global Ambassadors Week gave me an opportunity to make connections for life, and now, I probably have a bed to sleep in, in most countries around the Globe.
During IC, I encourage you to reach out, step out of your comfort zone, meet new people, talk and share experiences. You can learn so much by just listening to others stories and how they practice their Judaism in their countries. IC blew my mind because of so many opportunities and things to do, and to top it all off, it was teen led. International Convention alongside Global Week is a place where the best international connections are made, and the perfect opportunity for you to explore, learn, meet and become the best version of yourself, no matter what part of the world you live in, Florida or Latvia.
If you are from Dallas Area, I encourage you to apply to host, the experience is surreal and I promise you, you will love it.
See yall in Texas!
Ognjena Ratkovic is a BBG from BBYO Balkans, and she lives for all things pop culture, cute animals, and social media.
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