I just returned from volunteering for 10 days in Chicago at the Hugh O'Brian World Leadership Congress Seminar (WLC). After sleeping for nearly two days upon returning home, I figured I should get on with my life - but first - I should blog about the experience. This is my third time volunteering for WLC in which I have served as a facilitator for a group of students from around the world. I had 12 students from the U.S., China, Taiwan, Israel, and South Korea that I took through the seminar and served as a mentor for. I volunteer for the WLC because it is awe inspiring for me to work with the top students in the world; I consider it an honor to serve as their cheerleader through life.
However, another benefit of participating in this conference is getting to know the other volunteers (and this year there was 95 of them) who are the most interesting, positive, and coolest people I have ever met. I feel that each time I return from the WLC I grow into a better version of myself because I learn so much from the programming, the students, and the other volunteers. The people at the WLC truly bring out the best in me.
To make the volunteers manageable, those who work with the student ambassadors are divided into sections. I was in Section E which had the theme of the color Orange and the hashtag of #CitrusLove. We were led by a section Leader Patrick and his assistant, a Notre Dame student Clare. Look at how adorable they are!
As the Orange section, Patrick and Clare got us a ton of swag to use for our groups including amazing baseball shirts that said "Orange in the New Black." Ryan was both overjoyed and surprised looking at all of the things they had put together for us. His facial expression reflects how we all felt about Patrick and Clare all week, they were just awesome.
One of my favorite things that Patrick and Clare did was make Awesome Cards which are pictured below. They made a ton of them and gave them to all of the ambassadors in our section to give to others.
My group loved giving Awesome Cards to people we met on the train or street and those who worked at the different places we visited. Handing out an awesome card makes someone's day. This is something that I may have to somehow integrate a version of into my daily life.
Our Section Included:
Patrick H: As our section leader and long time HOBY & WLC volunteer, I feel like I learn something new from him every time we have a conversation. He is always complimentary, giving, and makes people feel like they are somebody. Patrick inspires me to be someone who is inclusive and continually teaches me how to create unity among a group.
Clare: This young woman makes me laugh every time she texts me. She is poised, has multiple diverse talents, is wise beyond her years and is beautiful. I admire her quick wit and incredible reservoir of energy. She inspires me to keep in touch with friends because she is so great at sending a quick text or photo to connect with others.
Matt: I always say I feel cooler just sitting next to Matt. He is a recent Harvard grad who has a passion for photography, road trips, and making bread. He has the most effortless style and can make any vintage button up look like it came straight off the runway. Matt inspires me to be more adventurous, humble, and embrace my passions without hesitation.
Heidi: Heidi is a southern lady who is currently teaching for Teach for America. She is sassy, fun, and outspoken and I have fun just listening to her speak about her outlook on life. She inspires me to speak up, be honest, and give back.
Patrick R.: This guy is ALWAYS smiling. His positive energy makes any situation not only bearable but fun. Patrick can relate to anyone he talks to and creates instant connections He inspires me to seek out the best in others and smile more.
Ryan: Ryan recently moved to Chicago to be involved in the theatre, improv scene and have I no doubt that he will be successful in this pursuit. Ryan's commentary and presence makes me genuinely laugh hard because I dig his sense of humor so much. At the same time, he is able to have deep conversations about serious issues and I am drawn to that balance. Being around him inspires me to be more silly, not worry about what others think, and dance/lipsync every time music is on.
As always, I wish I would have taken more photos of the staff to fully capture the fun we had. I did manage to snap a few candids of the staff along the way. Most of these photos involve a funny story and me laughing as I took the photo.
Below is my favorite photo from WLC this year. Because we were the Orange section Ryan, Heidi and I decided we HAD to have a photo that simulated the Real Housewives of Orange County where they hold oranges in the opening credits. We took oranges from the cafeteria and made this dream happen.