BBYO IC: A convention for the books

Northwest Canada Region of BBYO had a record breaking attendance at this year's International Convention, held February 14 - 19 in Orlando. Photo supplied.

By Lilah Silver and Will Hatch

BBYO International Convention (IC) 2024 was a convention for the books.

As BBYO Edmonton N’Siah Addison Borhaven wrote “IC 2024 was unlike any other, I got to see my long distance best friends after IC 2023 and create new ones. Now thanks to BBYO, I have international best friends.”

Besides celebrating the centennial year of the order, IC 2024 was historic for Northwest Canada (NWC) as well. This year NWC saw 47 members from Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg attend BBYO’s International Convention in Orlando. The largest group ever from our region to attend IC.

Not only was NWC attendance historic but one of our very own, Joseph Sequira, NWC’s Regional Moreh, ran for the 100th Grand Board of the Aleph Zadik Aleph. He wrote of the experience, “IC was everything it’s hyped up to be! I ran for international board because my chapter and region inspired me through the amount of life changing friendships and memories I have made with them, and I wanted to make sure other Jewish teens on a worldwide scale would be able to have similar BBYO experiences! Though I did not get elected onto the international board, IC was one of the greatest times I have had in BBYO; I made lifelong friendships, heard inspirational speakers, and more!”

The atmosphere at the convention was electric. 5000 Jewish teens from all around the globe, were given the opportunity to connect with and relate to one another. For Northwest Canada, IC started on Wednesday, February 14 along with the other Canadian delegations, global delegations, and all regional presidents. NWC members started showing up in Orlando at midday and continued arriving throughout the day. The first program NWC experienced was a BBYO Canada icebreaker bingo, then AZA/BBG separates run by Red River Region and Vancouver Region. At the same time, our Regional Aleph Godol, Benji Silver, was participating in February Execs with other regional presidents.

Thursday was when the build-up of events got even more exciting. Some lucky members from our region had the privilege of listening to Noa Tishby and Tiffany Haddish speak in the afternoon, which was truly inspirational. Later that night, IC was officially kicked off during opening ceremonies where we donned our red and white NWC sweaters, and cheered loudly when our Regional Aleph Godol, Benji Silver, and Regional N’siah, Ellie Vogel, ran across the stage representing Northwest Canada. We chanted “Am Yisrael Chai!” and sang and danced our hearts out during the Flo Rida concert.

Friday was a full day of activities. Known as LEAD Day, it included dozens of options for programming which were selected by members prior to IC. From flag football tournaments to Israeli journalism to community service to time at the zoo to participating in elections for the 100th Grand Board of the Aleph Zadik Aleph and 80th International Board of the B’nai B’rith Girls. Elections lasted around eight hours and you could say it was a bit of a marathon. In the middle of elections both AZAs and BBGs were able to take a break to eat lunch. After lunch, elections continued and finally came to an end at around 4 pm. After the elections, all delegates were told to get dressed up.

Saturday was yet another action-packed day. Delegates got the opportunity to see speakers such as Ross Lynch, Two Friends, and many more. Saturday evening, there was an amazing concert with Israeli singer-songwriter and actress Noa Kirel, who opened for Two Friends, a DJ/producer duo. The concert was a blast and an amazing way for delegates to finish off the evening.

Sunday started with a few BBYO centennial speakers in the morning and ended in the late afternoon. On Sunday evening teens were bussed to Universal Studios. At Universal, teens had the opportunity to explore many parts of the park including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and the Marvel Superhero Island. At Universal Studios, delegates had the chance to try butterbeer, ride the Hulk coaster, ride Jurassic World’s VelociCoaster, and many more exciting adventures.

Monday was a sad day for many, as it was the day when all attendees had to say goodbye to the friends they had made along the way. Tears were shed, laughs were shared and many departed with a profound sense of connection to Judaism. Calgary Gadol, Zane Haber summed up the feelings of many when he stated, “Just being at IC really showed me the true power and strength the movement of BBYO holds.”

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