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Student Perspective: Attending HOBY Camp is “Amazing Experience”

Mrs. Karen Hillen, our high school guidance counselor, approached me about attending the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference (HOBY) earlier this spring.  As Mrs. Hillen stated, “The mission of HOBY is to inspire and develop a global community of youth leaders dedicated to leadership, service and innovation.  We have many student leaders and leadership opportunities in our school, but this conference gives students the opportunity to see different perspectives and to meet people who can inspire them and possibly become lifelong acquaintances.”


Mrs. Hillen was spot on when she said HOBY inspired and provided new opportunities.  I am so thankful to her and to Leigh Community Schools for allowing me to participate in this amazing experience.  


The conference was held from May 31-June 2, 2019.  I will admit, I was a little hesitant, shy, and worried because when someone talks about going to a “leadership conference,” I immediately think “Kumbaya My Friends.” However, in all seriousness, this conference really did alter my way of thinking and boosted my confidence.


Just like every year, HOBY was held at Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, and there was a total of 160 sophomores in attendance this year. That number isn’t including the volunteers, juniors, and Concordia and HOBY directors who helped make the event run smoothly.


And after explaining to my peers that there’s less people in my entire high school compared to the sophomores at HOBY, I received quite a few looks of amazement. However, even though we all had different backgrounds, skill levels, and personalities, I can honestly say that I made some amazing friends, and we all pushed ourselves to better each other.


And even though I don’t work for the Senate, such as one student I met, I did learn a few things:


From the president of Concordia, I learned that it’s always important to hold values first. His speech was about the Concordia girls’ basketball team and how their values were faith, family, academics, and basketball in that order, and how they won the national championship because they held true to their values and each other.


From Ferial Pearson, a teacher, professor, and author, I learned that kindness really does matter. She began her speech by talking about gun violence not only as a kid in Kenya, but when she moved to America and faced it at a nearby school in the Sandy Hook shooting. She started a nationwide program called Secret Kindness Agents, and it began in her classroom with Agent Guardian of the Chickens and Agent Janet (named after the student’s aunt who died of cancer.) The whole class began doing secret acts of kindness every week, and whether they would smile the entire week, pick up trash, or write an appreciation letter, they realized that they made a difference in others but also themselves.


From the HOBY engagement director, I learned different chants, games, and how to get over myself.


From a former NFL Broncos player, who was involved in winning the Super Bowl, I learned to accept adversity and grow from it. Because as he told us in his speech, if he would’ve given up when life got hard, he wouldn't have gotten the chance to play in the NFL.

I also visited the local nursing home and spent a couple hours there just talking, baking, playing games, listening to a great piano player who resided there, and learning from them.


And finally, I learned about the different types of leadership and how to be open to all different people. Because as one of the HOBY leaders said, no two leaders are exactly the same, so whenever we are weak, we can look to others to make us stronger. We need to hold true to our values and be confident in ourselves, so we can use our talents to benefit others and not just ourselves.


I would again like to thank Leigh Community Schools for this great opportunity, and I highly recommend it to future Leigh students.


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