“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…”Colossians 3:23
LC: July 19-22
2,500 attendees, 300 self advocates, 35 presenters and performances, 14 countries attending, 10 training tracks, 4 days! Inclusion lives here!
To start off the day, Ava and I woke up early and met everyone for breakfast. After breakfast, we walked to the auditorium where we would start off our day listening to a couple guest speakers and listen to music to get excited for the day ahead of us. We listened to an interview of Rocco, a star from Born This Way, alongside his family, and a panel of all the guest speakers from the day before. We also watched and listened to an interview of the producers of Peanut Butter Falcon, which is a movie coming out in August about a man’s adventures with down syndrome. At the end of the day, the movie was shown for the very first time! During the directors’ interview, we also heard from Lauren Potter, a actress from Glee with down syndrome, and Annemarie Carrigan, the subject of a documentary about down syndrome, called Normie. All day, we were in classes where we held more open discussions for questions about how to lead our chapters and how to better support the buddies. In the discussions, we also learned about how to avoid infantilization, meaning treating someone in a child-like manner. We also discussed the differences between intent vs impact and equality vs equity. With these discussions, I broadened my understanding of the buddies’ perspectives and that every action and choice of ours truly matters. After all of the classes and lunch, all high schoolers attended World Cafe in the Alumni Hall. At World Cafe, one person from each state sat at a different table around the room. We were assigned somewhere to sit, so everyone at our table was truly a stranger. For an hour and a half, we all got to know each other at our table, talked about our chapters, and our experience at LC so far. World Cafe was my absolute favorite part of LC because I loved meeting people from around the nation and listening to their perspectives on Best Buddies. At my table, there were people from Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas, and Iowa. By the end of our time at World Cafe, we all wished we could talk to each other for the rest of the day! I loved meeting people from around the U.S. and I think that it’s amazing how everyone involved in Best Buddies has the same opinion on inclusion and believes that Best Buddies is changing the world, even though we had never met before and we were all from different states.
After classes and World Cafe, we returned to our dorms and got ready for Closing Ceremonies and the dance! Every year at LC, there is a dance that everyone attends on the last night. Every year, the dance has a different theme. This year, the theme was “Party Like It’s 1989” since it’s the 30th anniversary of Best Buddies being created and it was created by Anthony Kennedy Shriver in 1989. Before the dance, everyone met in the auditorium, where we watched a dance performance by Autism With Attitude and listened to a band perform called Hello Noon. The 80s themed dance was held in the Alumni Hall, which was the building where we had previously been in for World Cafe. In addition to the dance, there was also games in other rooms and the movie Peanut Butter Falcon was being premiered for the very first time in a different building.
Leaving LC was so bitter sweet! I had only gotten between 4-5 hours of sleep every night, but I still wasn’t ready to leave yet. We woke up at 6am after going to bed at 2am and we piled onto the bus, ready to get home to our own beds but not ready to leave our new close friends. On the bus ride back, we listened to ambassadors’ speeches, where they must present their speech as part of their application to potentially become an International Ambassador. Even though they had a small chance of being chosen against the other hundreds of buddies also competing for the position, I was so proud of all of them for telling their story in front of everyone and for being so brave! I loved hearing all of their speeches because I had helped one of them create their speech, Kara, in which she had worked hard on perfecting and practicing it while she was at LC. The other ambassadors, Michael and Amyah, also did an amazing job! Listening to their speeches on the way back was a great way to end BBLC2019!