An Experience in Youth Leadership: A Weekend at HOBY

An+Experience+in+Youth+Leadership%3A+A+Weekend+at+HOBY

Permission for use granted by HOBY

Brennan Nicholas, Staff Writer

The Hugh O’Brian Youth leadership (HOBY) seminar is an excellent opportunity and a once in a lifetime experience. Unless you are into classic movies, you may not know who Hugh O’Brian was. He was an American actor who wanted to inspire and make an impact on the youth. O’Brian founded HOBY in 1958 and began teaching young adults how to better themselves and their communities. This goal was achieved by making young people feel confident in their speaking abilities and connecting with other young, inspirational leaders their age.  

Good Counsel is one of the many High Schools in Maryland that has the opportunity to send kids to HOBY!

When I first joined the group in the breakout room, it was very nerve-racking. I’m a very quiet person and don’t talk a lot. However, the people were very friendly, and I realized I have nothing to be scared about. My confidence has gone up much more, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to be in such an amazing program.”

— Noura Lachman, HOBY student attendee

Each school chosen has to hold a “competition.” Teachers nominate the students in their class that they feel embody a leader-like quality. The students with the highest number of nominations will send in a copy of their resume, and the student with the most impressive resume is chosen. At HOBY, you won’t only learn how to be a leader, but have lots of fun, meet new people, and even talk to some celebrities! HOBY has a history of involving celebrities in the programs and speaking to the attendees. Notable speakers include Rainn Wilson – who plays Dwight Schrute on The Office, and Diane Latiker, a community activist in Chicago and founder of the nonprofit organization, Kids Off The Block – which provides educational opportunities to people in Chicago, and many, many more. 

Because of Covid-19, HOBY wasn’t able to have an in-person event this year but could hold their meetings via Zoom. Each speaker had recorded a video relaying the message that they wanted students to hear, tips about how to shape their future, and more. This year, Rainn Wilson talked about the importance of gratitude and gave the students insight into his religion, the Bahá’í Faith.

This year, HOBY was going to be held at Towson University over a weekend in July. Unfortunately, Covid-19 disrupted these plans, and students’ materials were mailed to them, along with an email and instructions outlining how to be appropriately prepared for the seminar. Over 230 students from schools across Maryland attended the seminar. Using zoom breakout rooms, they were placed into groups, played games, and shared what they aspired to fix – what they wish they could change in their lives, their communities, the world. 

A participant named Noura Lachman, who was in the same group as I, shared the following, 

“When I first joined the group in the breakout room, it was very nerve-racking. I’m a very quiet person and don’t talk a lot. However, the people were very friendly, and I realized I have nothing to be scared about. My confidence has gone up much more, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to be in such an amazing program.” 

After the seminar, I asked our proctor – Tracy O’Connor, how she felt about the program. She replied, 

“I really enjoyed working with you all and wished we could meet each other in person. I experienced HOBY when I was younger and loved it, and I’m glad you all also did. I also liked each of your ideas, and I’m absolutely thrilled that you guys want to do things to change the world.” All in all, HOBY is a great opportunity! Not only do you get to make new friends with leaders your age, but you can make friends with celebrities, do fun activities, and so much more! Many people want issues such as racism, sexual assault, hate crimes, and war to end. But many don’t do anything to stop it. HOBY is about getting the youth involved to address those issues and help to eradicate them for good. If you are a Good Counsel student reading this and think that HOBY is right for you, visit www.hobymd.org or contact Ms. Smith in the Good Counsel Counseling Department for more information on how you can become a HOBY participant.