(posted to Facebook, January 23, 2009)
"Pick an object from an important event in your life and speak about how it relates to your life/personality."
To Be Enthusiastic You Must Act Enthusiastic
January 23, 2009
A Meeting New People/Not Being Shy
B Lasting Friendships
Many people struggle with being too shy to meet new people or take on positions of leadership. I used to have these same problems until I attended a leadership seminar called HOBY in 2007. HOBY stands for Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Seminar and is a program for high school sophomores. This is my name tag from when I returned as an alumni volunteer in 2008 and I look forward to attending once again this year, getting a new name tag, and reinforcing the values of enthusiasm, leadership, and friendship.
The main focus of HOBY is to teach students the value of being enthusiastic. This is accomplished by learning cheers and cheering them, one of which is “To be enthusiastic you must act enthusiastic!” Although most of the students are not enthusiastic at first, by the second day of the program, everyone is on their feet and really into it. I have never been a very enthusiastic person, but I am enthusiastic about HOBY. So much so, that when I returned in 2008, I was a member of Team Alumni, a group of students who were in charge of leading the cheers.
After the students overcome their shyness by cheering cheer after cheer, they are put further out of their comfort zone by participating in leadership activities. One activity to practice leadership consists of each small group building a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows. Not only do they have to try and build the tallest tower out of 200 students, but they are not allowed to talk. Another activity is the “picture-chain,” where each group must find connections between a number of objects and try to use every picture. Both of these activities challenge the students to communicate effectively and lead while practicing teamwork. Because of my experiences at HOBY, I am more willing to step up and lead while democratically gathering everyone's opinion.
The 200-some students that attend HOBY are divided into groups of 12 and the natural consequence of learning enthusiasm and leadership in such intimate groups is the creation of lifelong friendships. I don't know anyone that has attended HOBY and has not kept in contact with anyone they met at the seminar. One of my friendships from 2007 is so strong that I have driven two and a half hours to his house since the seminar. I forged even closer friendships in 2008 with the other members of TA. All of us talk to each other often and we are each looking forward to returning to the seminar again this year. What is especially amazing about HOBY is that every student gets along with every other student, regardless of the vast differences between them.
If you had known me prior to May of 2007, you would not have thought of me as very enthusiastic or as a leader. But since attending HOBY, although I am still shy occasionally, I am more likely to start conversations, speak my opinion, and take on leadership roles. I am so enthusiastic about HOBY that I own three HOBY shirts and a HOBY messenger bag, in addition to my two name tags. Because HOBY has changed me so much, it is extremely important to me and I cannot wait for HOBY 2009 where I will get yet another name tag.