For over 60 years, HOBY has provided leadership education programs to high school students. 2020 would have been like any other year; nearly 10,000 ambassadors from schools across the United States, Canada, China, and the UK were set to attend one of our 71 life-changing programs this spring. At HOBY, we show young people that they are the leaders of today–that they can make an impact on the world not someday, but now. Year after year, we watch and cheer as our alumni change the world we live in.
But this time, the world is changing all by itself.
And, as the world changes, HOBY will change with it.
The Power of Flexibility
When I was 16-years-old, I sat cross-legged on an auditorium floor and listened as Hugh O’Brian handed me the key that unlocked my leadership journey: “Be flexible,” he told us. Flexibility teaches us to stay calm when things go wrong, be patient with the unknown, roll with the punches, and be creative when the perfect plan falls apart. Flexibility shapes adaptable, resilient, gritty leaders. And those are the leaders that don’t just navigate change–they thrive in it.
So what does an organization founded by a flexible leader do during a crisis? We adapt. We get gritty. We build the skills necessary to emerge as resilient leaders. We don’t merely look for a way to survive, we find a way to thrive.
Enter HOBY Connect: our new online learning platform. We’ve known for decades that HOBY is a life-changing organization, but when it comes to impact we’re still only scratching the surface. There are currently 15.3 million high school students in the United States* alone. The potential for HOBY to expand our programming is practically limitless–but only if we remove the limitations that have kept us cornered. By expanding into the online space, HOBY can broaden our reach, offer new leadership programming, and connect our global community in one place.
HOBY Connect will host virtual versions of our leadership seminars until we can responsibly bring a group of young people and volunteers together again. The first program to launch on HOBY Connect will be the Local Leadership Seminar. As a testament to our organization’s ability to cultivate adaptable and resilient leaders, volunteers created a new virtual curriculum that ensures the online leadership learning experience will provide an exciting, engaging, and intentional program for thousands of ambassadors in the weeks to come.
What Does Going Digital Mean?
As this crisis has taught us, going digital is not without its set of issues. Questions of internet and device access, supportive home learning environments, inclusivity and accessibility are important considerations when entering into an online learning space. HOBY has always faced issues of this kind, and as leaders, we will do what we’ve always done to overcome them: advocate, adapt, create, and problem-solve until we find solutions that work.
In the not-so-distant-future, HOBY Connect will allow for HOBY to develop intentional and engaging web-based programs for ambassadors, alumni, and volunteers. The opportunity to expand our access and scale our programming is at last before us, and now is the time for our community’s creativity to shine. HOBY should, can, and will live on another 60-some years…and hopefully 160 more after that. But as the world continues to shift, our legacy will live on through the youth we serve, ready to lead us to thrive through the change.
What virtual program options would you like to see on HOBY Connect? Drop it in the comments below!
About the Author: Angie Magazino is a 2001 Eastern PA and WLC alumna and HOBY volunteer. Most recently, Angie served as the 2019 World Leadership Congress Chair and led a team to create HOBY’s Virtual Local Leadership Seminar Curriculum. She’s currently staying home in Washington, D.C. and is grateful for the company of her dog, Ama, grocery delivery, and all-night virtual calls with her HOBY family.