The 2018 Central PA Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership Seminar was held from Thursday May 17th to Sunday May 20th at Shippensburg University, and I was lucky enough to be a Facilitator-in-Training (FIT), Section Assistant, and Panelist for the seminar that I was once an ambassador of in 2014. This would be my fourth year volunteering at the organization that gave me hope and a purpose when I was just 16 years old.
The ambassadors are all tenth grade students from all over Central PA that have been selected by their high school in some fashion to represent them; most schools send just one ambassador. On Thursday, we worked through personal leadership activities to learn more about our individual leadership styles and how they interact with each other.
Our Capitol Day has quite an early start, but is very worth it for a day full of learning and debating on the real House Floor in Harrisburg. Ambassadors are split into their assigned committees and where they can propose amendments and discuss fake bills. They then move to their Majority/Minority Caucus meetings, and after discussing the bills in their caucuses, everyone moves to the House Floor.
Leadership in Action is a huge part of HOBY, by encouraging the attitude of servant leadership. My “bus” on Saturday went to the Shippensburg Farm on campus and learned about food insecurity in the broader Shippensburg area, and how the Farm is working to combat it. We then walked to the (very muddy post-rain storm) Farm and worked on various clean-up/prep projects. Later that night was our Keynote Address presented by Haley Staub and Brady Lucas, two recent Penn State graduates who were the PR and Special Events Directors, respectively, for THON 2018. They each spoke on how they became passionate about THON’s mission and used this passion to serve Four Diamonds in their time at Penn State.
On Sunday, we all convene for our last programming session: Life With HOBY. We talk about different opportunities to get involved with HOBY going forward, especially HOBY’s “Leadership 4 Service” Challenge, which challenges ambassadors to complete at least 100 hours of service within the following year. We then have a panel discussion with HOBY alumni and this year, I was fortunate enough to be asked to be one of four alumni in the panel. Following the panel, ambassadors gathered together for Reflections, where one-by-one, ambassadors are welcomed to stand up and share what they learned from HOBY and what they plan to do with the experience. It really comes full circle with the question that started the organization’s existence: “What are you going to do with this?” Closing ceremonies and move-out close out the seminar. I could write a book with every detail of the seminar, but I was really blessed with a great group and great facilitating team this year. Each year, HOBY restores my faith in our future.
HOBY is an important part of my life, because each year it teaches me something new. The people that I’ve met through HOBY are also very important to me because not only do I have a hand in helping the future’s leaders realize their potential, but they always share so much with me at the same time. I never cease to be amazed by the community I have formed through HOBY. My best friends are from HOBY, and it’s not because we are all the same (or even close to the same), but because we all form the same heart. HOBY is an international organization, and still not everyone can attend HOBY, but I really wish that everyone could experience it because it has the capability of changing lives and propelling ambassadors into action in their communities; it’s so powerful. A saying, that could not be more true, across the organization is, “HOBY changed me, so I’ll change the world.”