Andrew Wang and Namrata Vakkalagadda, both grade 11, attended the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Northern California Seminar in mid-June, held at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY for short) is a national organization that seeks to build principles of service and leadership in high school students. Students are selected by their schools to participate in HOBY events, where they participate in leadership-building activities, hear from important figures in a variety of fields and more.
“There were many activities that essentially made us ask ourselves how we would behave in certain circumstances that questioned our decision-making skills or our opinions,” said Wang, who said he met many new friends at the conference. “The activities ranged from building a tower with pipe cleaners to creating a mock business operation that interacted with other similar groups.”
Students also learned about different types of leadership, such as personal leadership, group leadership and society leadership.
“One of my favorite activities was where we answered a set of questions and found out which ‘color’ we are. Each color represented certain qualities that person possesses,” Vakkalagadda said. People of the same color were then put into groups and told to build a tower with the materials provided. “Each group had a very different experience, but all the towers failed. The activity showed us how all four types of leadership are needed to keep any type of organization or group running.”
Speakers at the conference included college counselors, service leaders and representatives from nonprofits. Vakkalagadda particularly enjoyed a presentation by Stephen Amundson, who heads a program called Reach Out and Impact a Life. “His speech that targeted the main skills needed by a group leader was not only informative, but also interactive as well as fun,” Vakkalagadda said. “He made his entire program enjoyable for the audience and yet still managed to strongly pass along his message.”