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.