BBYO is a huge part of my life, just like it is for thousands of Jewish teens worldwide. And when I say worldwide, I mean it. BBYO touches the hearts of people across more than 30 countries. From Bulgaria to Argentina and Georgia to China, BBYO impacts so many people daily.
Although I may live far away, I feel connected to my sister BBGs and brother Alephs globally. I have been so lucky to have the chance to communicate with many people in different countries about BBYO and what itís like to be a Jewish teen in their community. I was so happy to share these stories with the girls in my chapter, Achot BBG, during a BBYO Around the World program. We explored different aspects of their unique cultures such as music, language and food.
When comparing lifestyles, there is so much that we can learn from each other. For example, one of the BBGs who I communicated with was a girl named Marina from Serbia. Since her region, BBYO Balkans, is very spread out geographically, every week they have a video call that is basically like a virtual event. They start with icebreakers and then move into programming or discussions. I think this is so cool, because although they do not see each other often, they still have many similar bonds that I do with the girls in my chapter. This taught me that if the people in BBYO Balkans can function together, my chapter can overcome anything that is thrown at us.
I also think that it is amazing and exciting that I have the opportunity to have friends that live on a different continent. About a month ago, BBYO held its annual International Convention with the largest global delegation in BBYO history: Over 100 teens traveled from countries other than the United States. Unfortunately, I did not attend the convention, but almost all of my friends from home who did attend came back with stories of international experience that they were happy to share. I was so fascinated with everything they had to say. I would not be able to do this anywhere except for BBYO.
More importantly, these global experiences through BBYO have taught me that my Jewish community does not only lie in Owings Mills, or Baltimore, but everywhere on earth, whether we can see it or not. We may be different, but we all have something so important in common, and that is our Jewish roots. Even though many of the international Jewish teens live thousands of miles away, BBYO makes that distance feel a little bit shorter, because we are one movement, and one community.
Lindsey Weiskopf is a freshman at Park School and serves as vice president of programming in her chapter, Achot BBG, and as publicity chair of BBYO Baltimore Council. To learn more about BBYO, contact its Baltimore Council regional director, Danielle Hercenberg, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-559-3549.