By 'Enthusiastic' Erin McKeown '15
If someone had told me that within the 52 hours at the HOBY Maine seminar my view of myself and the world around me would completely alter, I would’ve called them crazy. After HOBY I can say two things: they were crazy and they were right.
After waking up at 5:20 am on Friday morning and driving 2 hours to University of Maine at Farmington, I was beginning to regret my decision to apply. I was exhausted, proven by the designer bags underneath my eyes. The first cheer we did was less than enthusiastic. The offbeat clapping and mumbled words added to my mind’s disorganization and doubt of my HOBY plan.
It wasn’t until I was sitting with my group (Team Wisdom) that night, when I realized my life had begun to change. I felt judgement free, my hair was a mess and my makeup smudged, and I was focusing on who I was not how I looked. I have never felt more open in my life. I was surrounded by people from all different backgrounds, families and counties, but we were unified by the same goal: to become better leaders. My team and I were working together to solve problems and discussing things we were passionate about like politics, whether colored twizzlers or normal twizzlers tasted better, etc. As I went to bed that night after a rousing card game with all of the HOBY girls on my floor, I began to notice the potential within myself and those around me.
As Saturday sped by in a blur of motivational speakers and leadership activities I realized what was so special about HOBY. It was the first time I had sat in a room and knew everyone in that room believed in me. They all believed that I would succeed in someway and somehow change the world and that support, that HOBY love, completely shifted my views of myself and of the fellow leaders of my generation. I was sitting in a room of explosive power, the strength of empowered youth, and the momentum we can create will move mountains. We were free to express whatever ideas we had, no matter how irrational or radical, and we were encompassed by support no matter how crazy our notions were. HOBY gave me a new motivation, a new passion for life and I was blessed to find the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
At lunch Saturday I had one of the best conversations of my life. Sitting around the cafeteria table was my junior facilitator Ronnie and fellow ambassadors Luca and Sadie. Throughout the lunch hour we argued, laughed and debated pros and cons of everything we believed in. I no longer felt like I had to fit into a social category of popular girl, soccer player or theater kid. There at that table, with a heated debate flowing around me, I redefined myself. I was no longer what society expected or what my friends wanted, I was me, I became Erin McKeown and, thanks to HOBY, I’m going to find a way to change the world.
By 'Loud' Luca Serio '15
My HOBY experience started two days early. I received a call from the junior facilitator at my future table while at a team dinner for an ultimate frisbee team that I wouldn't be able to join at the State Tournament later that Saturday and Sunday. This was initially a really conflicting decision for me, but I can honestly say attending the seminar is worth missing anything. What you might miss back home may feel amazing at the time, but being with such a fantastic group of people and having some of the most intellectual discussions I've ever had will stay with me for far longer than anything else I could have been doing.
The caller introduced herself as Emily and told me something that stuck with me throughout the whole weekend and beyond. "If we ask you to do something, go with it,” she said. “Don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself."
With this in mind, I rolled up to the University of Maine in Farmington anticipating awkwardness and hesitation among the students, and even though I was initially correct, by lunch time we caught on with some of the cheers. After our second speaker, Dr. Foster, my peers and I were able to effectively reassure her that she was O-U-T-S-T-A-N-D-I-N-G.
The constant cheering brought us together in a way that I couldn't have foreseen. When some of us weren't trying all that hard, the enthusiasm and effect was notably less, but when we were all wholeheartedly clapping our hands and testing our voices, we shook rooms and flexed out windows. A fellow ambassador, Erin, brought her own cheer to the seminar, I guess you could say that this blew my mind in that it was one of the broadest examples of making the HOBY experience unique and personal. This cheer will certainly appear at more HOBY seminars than she might, and to have the sort of impact - contributing to, altering, and improviving such an ingrained part of the program (cheering) - is amazing to see. Personally, I helped lead in what I hope will become the first annual HOBY cinnamon roll.
At school, each student is directed and instructed what to study and fill their heads with. But when you step into HOBY Central, you are the captain of your own ship. What you take away from the weekend and back to school is up to you and only you. So as someone who told one of my friends the summer before, "I fear nothing more than public humiliation," being told to “go with it,” was beyond scary for me. What if I tripped? What if my voice cracks? What if I forget the words? Very real questions I would ask myself.
But at Saturday lunch, my senior facilitator, Ben, made all of that go away. As I went to take a bite of my roast beef sandwich, I was stopped by two words: “HEY LUCA.” It was at that moment I realized that I was going to have to get down. I was secretly awaiting this moment with a mixture of dread and excitement. Maybe again, I could be the first one to do something. And as the first ambassador to get called out to get down alone, I took my chance and got down like it was a school dance. The applause told me that I had impressed, and the feeling told me that my fear, supposedly my biggest fear, no long was part of my life. If there was one moment that I could relive from the weekend, that may be it.
Going to HOBY, sitting idly in the back and not talking a lot will change how you see world. But going to HOBY and grabbing each opportunity by the horns will change your life. To anyone needing revival, inspiration, rejuvenation, or even a few friends they're going to have forever, look no further.