It's been over a week since I returned from WLC and thus it is long overdue that I post Part 2 of my #WLC14 summer adventure which is dedicated to my student ambassadors. I was the facilitator for group E1 in the Orange section; Citrus Love was our motto.
In our group we had 12 ambassadors from all over the world. While it is interesting to observe the culture differences among the teens from around the globe, it is far more interesting to me to witness their similarities despite these cultural differences. In the end, they are all teenagers who have have social dramas, are worried about college/future, are figuring out who they are, and want to have fun. And at WLC, they are all young adults who have big ideas and want to impact their community in a positive way.
I had each ambassador mark on the world map where they are from. We represent many time zones which we are now finding makes it difficult to schedule a time for a Google Hangout.
Within 10 minutes of our first time as a group, most of us were in tears listening to Rivka, our group member from Irsael discussing what is happening in her country. That initial conversation set a norm for the group that while we can fun together, we are also a group that can have tough conversations and learn from each other in the process. I believe that when someone shares a piece of information that makes them vulnerable, you grow closer to them. This is a signature trait of someone at HOBY - being able to discuss (not debate) issues for the sake of growth. This is one of the many reasons I love coming to HOBY and one of the many reasons this group of ambassadors grew so close.
This is a photo of E1 hours after met. You can see we were are all just sitting awkwardly next to each other politely smiling for the photo. You will notice the transformation of our group's relationship in the photos below. We went from posing awkwardly to hugging each other, laughing, and being silly together. The transformation between the photo above and photos below is always something that I love to examine because it shows how close a group of strangers can grow in 7 days.
When they went to take a photo with me they decided to bow to me. I didn't argue.
One reason that I believe this group of ambassadors was able to become so close in such a short period of time is because they are all genuinely kind individuals. I was continually impressed with this kindness because it is not a trait I typically find in students their age. They were polite, inclusive, and had a positive attitude when working with each other. They didn't judge and wanted to learn about each other through honestly, thoughtful questions, and spending time together.
My wish for all of them is to alway be this kind.
To get a glimpse of this kindness, check out this video they made on our last night together. I had them go in the hall and record a short message to the other group members. I had about 45 minutes of footage and with my minimal iMovie editing skills I cut to be about 18 minutes : )
I always love handing out swag in the color of my section each year, so when I found a listing of sturdy, yet fashionable orange fanny packs on eBay I bought them immediately for my group. This is why you will see fanny packs in most of my photos. They are so practical too (I am hoping they make a comeback)! I felt that they represented that how were going to (fanny) pack as much as we could into the week. We did just that. It is amazing how much energy you have when surrounded by positive, like-minded people and how much you can fit into a day because of that energy.
Here are some of my favorite candid shots from sitting in sessions, going to the Museum of Science and Industry and our day out in Chicago for our Amazing Race.
On the last night we were together, group E1 simulated the Nicest Place on the Internet and made their own hug video. At HOBY we always love to give each other HOBY hugs so this video is a tribute to that. Enjoy!