HOBY WLC ‘21
In May, I found myself applying for HOBY. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was expecting from the hybrid WLC this year, but tear-jerking speeches, “speed dating”, and possible lifelong connections definitely weren't on the list, but I can assure you this experience was definitely once in a lifetime. To quote my facilitator on the first day of HOBY, “You never know what HOBY has in store…but if you pay close attention, you’ll find the path that was intended for you.”
Everyone in life walks down a different road, but HOBY is an intersection point for a plethora of warm, diverse and open-minded people from all over the globe to meet and learn from each other. From my group alone, I met an ambassador from California serving her community as a Girl Scout leader, a volunteer studying at Harvard and juggling a busy internship at the same time, and an athlete competing at national levels with a shot at the Paris Olympics. With different people comes different strengths and fortes; but at the same time, comes different stories and experiences as well. With different stories comes different adversities and hardships. We are the generation that “grew up too fast” -- we face climate change, discrimination, injustice and broken systems, as well as whatever else the world throws at us. I met people from all over the world, each carrying their own unique burden, yet each of them rising stronger than ever from it. It’s something that I admire deeply about every person at HOBY. Everyone has their struggle. Everyone has their challenge. Everyone has their trauma, even if you don't view it as that -- it is what it is. But you will overcome your demons, better than ever.
You can’t have diversity without adversity -- as one of the keynote speakers, Lamarr Womble, said, “It's this and that, not this or that” -- and that's when empathy comes in. It goes without saying that if you want to be more empathetic and more inclusive, you have to create safe spaces for people to be exactly who they are. And HOBY did it: every night, there would be different zoom rooms called affinity spaces open for all ambassadors to join, where people can share their narrative and experiences, a place where people can be their most genuine selves, no strings attached. I heard stories from all over the world, stories that inspired me and achievements that left me in wonder. It was mind boggling how much mere teenagers have gone through or accomplished in just a few years, yet they showed that nothing is impossible.
One question I left with after the WLC was this : what am I going to do with all this? However, if there’s one thing I took away from this HOBY WLC, it’s to listen. Listen to how you can help. Every person has a story that needs to be heard, but what’s more important than hearing, is to pay attention and listen. Your daily actions have a lasting impact. One small action can change somebody’s world, our world. The most important thing is that you have to keep moving in the direction that your heart is taking you to help, and to do that, you have to first listen.
My heart is full and my eyes are sore after a week’s worth of nights on zoom but I am so grateful for this opportunity -- for the chance to define my own world, for the occasion to experience what the HOBY community feels like, and for the courage to take responsibility and action to help after the WLC. As Diane Latiker said, “You all have the power to change the world. My world, your world. There’s no failure in that. I’m banking on that.” Who are we? We are everyone and anyone we want to be.
SUN, Ka Yin Leandra
Hong Kong Ambassador
HOBY WLC ‘21
My first impression of virtual HOBY was laced with skepticism and curiosity. How can they pull off a week-long event on Zoom, of all places, and still earn such high praise from the 2020 HOBY alumni? Surely there’s no way they can engage all 200 hybrid ambassadors. By the end of the week, I am perfectly content with how I got it all wrong. So, what is this magic that transcended the tedious Zoom screen and wriggled its way into our minds?
“Community is a place where we collectively make a choice to spend a bit more time and effort to make it a better place.” What does community mean to you? Before HOBY, I thought of community as a place I was passively put into. Something like our home city, Hong Kong, my school, and perhaps my neighbourhood. HOBY has taught me otherwise, community is a feeling. To put this into context, I remember my stomach doing emotional somersaults whenever I wanted to speak about something. (because that would mean being spotlighted on Zoom and your face will be pinned on everyone’s screen) Maybe what I want to say is redundant, I might stutter, a lot of things could go wrong. But if I have to name something that sets HOBY apart from other virtual, or even face-to-face seminars, it is that the people are extremely supportive and will go to great extents to show it to you. The rarely used “to everyone” chat box is never empty when someone speaks. The authentic and energetic remarks from ambassadors never fail to dose the speaker with courage. This, perhaps, was one of the things that fostered the sense of community. You might have felt this way before, an unnameable urge to serve a group of people you don’t necessarily know personally, but want to sacrifice for nonetheless. Well, perhaps it has always been the community in you speaking all along!
Naming the feeling has brought a new perspective to me about leadership. Stepping up to lead in a community is one thing, but have you ever initiated a community for something you care about? How do you translate an idea into action while keeping the essence of leadership? One of the keynote speakers, Diane Latiker, had demonstrated that a community can be something you bring together. She is the founder of “Kids off the Block”, based in a neighbourhood where youths are extremely vulnerable to violence such as drug abuse and gun violence, and gang violence. She had said that her neighbours thought her work was futile and was indifferent towards the teenagers entering and exiting her house. Eventually, they were moved by her vision and determination, and the whole community got involved in assisting troubled youths. Ms Latiker is an example that an individual’s idea can inspire a group of people to venture out of their comfort zone and make conscious decisions to contribute to the community. Lead with vision and innovation, remain steadfast. Although you may never get unanimous support, you will be able to create a community filled with unconditional love.
Today, basking in the afterglow of HOBY, I feel the elation of creating HOBY’s acceptance and inclusiveness to my own communities. This discussion about community is only one of the many, many things I have learnt from HOBY. Don’t let anything hold you back, I can’t wait to see where your journey brings you!
CHEUNG, Sun Yuet Hilary
Hong Kong Ambassador
HOBY WLC ‘21