2014 World Leadership Congress

Hello MA HOBY community! My name is Timothy Barlar a 2014 Massachusetts ambassador to HOBY's World Leadership Congress. The 2014 World Leadership Congress (WLC) is a week-long, life-changing, educational and leadership skills building program held at Loyola's beautiful campus just a few minutes outside the city of Chicago. Convened there for the week were representatives from 16 different countries which include France, China, Taiwan, Ireland and many more which made for a diverse group of the worlds future leaders. Alongside the 426 ambassadors were 78 volunteer staff who dedicated themselves to a successful convention. Throughout the week we attended many panels and presentations delivered to us by some of the most charismatic and intelligent speakers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They spoke on a wide variety of topics which ranged from religion to social entrepreneurship. To break up the programming we also were able to walk the streets of Chicago in the Amazing Race, visit Chicago's museum of science and industry and perform cheers until our lungs got sore. This entire package was offered for only $1,675+ air fair. However, I know I can speak on the behalf of the entire WLC family when I say it is money well spent.

The program itself consisted of a wide variety of different activities from speakers and panelists to community service. All discussions took place in Loyola's spacious auditorium my personal favorite being the cultures of faith panel where a Rabbi, Catholic, Buddhist and Atheist convened to tell a little about their faiths as well as pick each other's minds. Their discussion enthralled me and got me to realize that people of differing religious backgrounds can in fact speak about their faiths as well as other faiths in a respectful manner. Prior to this I had never seen people discussing other faiths openly and the four panelists showed me how a mature conversation like this can be had. In addition to our many lectures on motivation, leadership and diversification we also were given the opportunity to create an idea for a program or non profit organization which would better our community or help those in need through various global challenge workshops. During these global challenge workshops ambassadors would brainstorm and ultimately produce SMART goals to get one step closer to making their dream community service project a reality. Ultimately, through the democratic process of voting seven finalists were named and received scholarships to HOBY's advanced leadership academy (ALA) to further refine their ideas. After an action packed day of panels, projects and activities, groups would retreat to their dorms for an hour and a half "group time" where ambassadors were able to talk about the day with their group as well as relax and collect their thoughts while munching on some of the many provided snacks.

WLC has been a great experience for me. Prior to my trip I had never been far away from my home or family for such an extended amount of time but this experience gave me the self confidence I need to be unafraid of leaving for collage or navigating an airport alone, life lessons that can only be taught through experience. WLC also showed me the importance of community service. Prior to attending HOBY my idea of giving back was something I could only see myself doing at the local level. While I still feel the greatest impact I can have is at the local level, I will always value and consider larger "out reach programs" as an integral part of what I would like to do in my early adult years thanks to all I have learned at WLC. Part of my college experience will now include active involvement in "outreach programs" as well as the other common college activities that I hope to enjoy. Thank you HOBY for granting me this valuable insight into some of the rewarding experiences which can be had by being an active member of my community and I look foreword to rendering my services to those in need. Finally, the most valuable experience I had at WLC was meeting the 426 other ambassadors who had come from all walks of life to this seminar. With so many kids and cultures being represented and being completely on my own, I was forced to start making new friends and soon enough handshakes were exchanged and in-turn ever lasting bonds formed. Introducing myself to hundreds of the ambassadors taught me the significance of a handshake and an introduction. I used to be afraid to simply introduce myself but now I seek out strangers and look forward to meeting new people which is an attribute I hope to retain for the foreseeable future. If the opportunity arises I can whole-heartedly recommend WLC to anyone. If you have any other questions about the trip or seminar itself please feel free to email me at barlart2016@s.grafton.k12.ma.us anytime. HOBY hugs to all!

~Timothy Barlar

Back Row from left to right: Madeleine Francis, Colby Chase, Tim Barlar, Robert Columbus

Front Row from left to right: Andrea Barlow, Taylor Jordao, James Lehner, Natalia Gromley