Tuesday, June 5, 2012


  I just got back from overthrowing Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, USA.  Assisting me were 220 high school sophomores and 90 adult volunteers.  Sure, sure, they weren't officially there to help with the Revolution, but there was much distributing of stickers, talk of Siberia, and rock 'n roll.  They were under the banner of HOBY, or Hugh O'Brian Youth leadership, a four day conference designed to teach leadership skills and critical thinking.  Thinking sure was critical, but difficult, seeing as most people including myself only got about 12 hours of sleep the whole time.

  I had such an incredible time, and learned some way cool lessons.  I was technically the facilitator for a group of nine sophomores, but I was more of a student than any of them.  Check it.

1. You shouldn't cry during an emotional program.  It's bad for group morale, especially when sitting next to a 16 year old girl.  Tears, apparently, are contagious.  Much apologies, m'am!

2.  I heard a quote the other day from some ancient Greek dude.  Just because you can't do something doesn't mean it's impossible.  There I was, surrounded by the raw power of idealism and youth, and I was going "blah blah blah", speaking from the bitterness of defeats I had endured.  (OK, at 26, there haven't been that many battles lost, but still...)  Thankfully, I snapped out of it, and realized that I was sitting in the midst of the new wave.  And just because there was another wave, didn't mean that mine was finished.  You know how us insufferable grown ups say "youth is the future", and somehow make it sound like a pathetic excuse for our failure, somehow allowing us to sit idly by while the world burns?  I'd like to say the same thing, and add I'm proud to have you join my fight to save the world.  

Shoulder to shoulder we shall battle on.  Comrades, I salute you.  Let's do this.

3.  Learning goes both ways.  I realized that I had been looking at the program as me doing the instructing, guiding, and inspiring.  Wrong.  Here's just one example.  While I was in a meeting, my group snuck up to my dorm room, and, having purchased these index cards called HOBY hugs (PAID FOR by one of the 16 year olds), covered the door in the most incredibly kind, funny, thoughtful messages.  I stumbled back to my room after two in the morning, and had my mind blown by this.  I was so touched and inspired by the kindness and thoughtfulness shown.  Lesson for me:  Everyone's a teacher, everyone's an inspiration, and every single thing we do affects each other, no matter who we are, what age we are, or what station in life we currently hold.  

In that spirit, I'm starting a new bit in my guitar lessons.  Students have the option of giving me a two minute lesson.  I tried it today with great success - the client loved it, gained something, and I learned something.  We're all in this together, after all.

Thank you, everyone.  Thank you.

4.  Man, life sure can be fun.  I wrote a little tune for the good folks back at the conference.


Thank you, Emmitsburg!  You've been a great crowd!

- Josh  

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