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BBYO: A Truly International Experience

Read this story in the Baltimore Jewish Times

BBYO teens around the world had been waiting with great anticipation for the morning of Sept. 30, when online registration opened for the organization’s largest convention of the year — the International Convention.

With more than 2,000 teens expected to register, BBYO staff nervously monitored its website, hoping it wouldn’t crash as the clock turned to 8 a.m. From an outside perspective, it can be hard to understand what would inspire so many teens to sign up for this four-day retreat. There are the obvious reasons: dances, concerts, spending time with friends, traveling to a different state, meeting new people, hearing interesting speakers and what every teen values — time away from home. But it’s the extra steps BBYO takes that distinguishes this event from the many that are available to Jewish teens.

Last year, attendees were treated to performances from Aloe Blacc, American Authors and B.o.B, along with wonderful excursions through the city of Dallas. The daily programs connected participants to other BBYO teens from around the world and featured professionals who were able to reflect on the ways in which BBYO had shaped their lives. Finally, the teens filmed a commercial for the American Heart Association for CPR awareness, demonstrating how they could all come together to produce something that would benefit all people. In addition to IC activities, an entire movement within BBYO is dedicated to globalization. This includes programming for members to learn about the customs and Jewish heritage of communities worldwide.

During the Israeli conflict with Hamas this past summer, BBYO hosted an online briefing with the minister of public and academic affairs at the Israeli Embassy to help BBYO members more fully understand the situation and to give advice on how to speak up for Israel. BBYO also sent information to its members to participate in the IDF Aid Campaign to send care packages and letters of thanks to members of the Israel Defense Forces.

It is these types of programs that make BBYO unique and encourage teens to attend IC. Concerts and dances are great, but having the opportunity to interact with Jewish teens from around the world and learn about what it means to be a Jew in their world is why this program is so special.

BBYO’s International Convention will take place Feb. 12-16, 2015 in Atlanta. To learn more about BBYO or the convention, contact BBYO Baltimore Council Regional Director Danielle Hercenberg at or call 410-559-3549.

Alyssa Weiss is a senior at Pikesville High School and a member from Achot BBG in the Northern Region East: Baltimore Council, where she serves as vice president of communication.

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