National event inspires White

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 25, 2007

JACKSON – What happens when high school students have the chance to learn valuable leadership skills?

They have the opportunity to make the world better and that’s what the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Congress (HOBY) is all about.

In June, Jeff White, a rising junior at Northeast Academy, attended the state HOBY conference at NC State University.

One month later, White was then chosen to represent North Carolina at the HOBY annual World Leadership Congress in Washington DC.

O’Brian, an actor best known for his portrayal of Wyatt Earp, founded the HOBY program in 1958 to help students develop vital leadership skills.

He first had the idea for the conference when he met Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a German doctor and missionary.

Schweitzer, then 83, had received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in behalf of the “Brotherhood of Nations” and was concerned about global peace.

O’Brian spent nine days at the clinic with Schweitzer and the other doctors and nurses who were treating people without conveniences such as electricity and running water

After the trip, O’Brian was inspired to form the HOBY program and from 1958 to 1967, HOBY leadership programs took place annually in Los Angeles.

In 1968 the HOBY program grew to include national and international participants, which led to the expanded eight-day global leadership seminar called the World Leadership Congress (WLC) held annually.

There were 425 other students at the conference.

To attend a State Leadership Seminar, the students with demonstrated leadership potential must be selected by their high schools.

White said he and the other students were able to listen to and interact with leaders in various areas of business, science, medicine and media.

He said one of the lessons he learned was that the media has a biased view on subjects.

According to White there were students at the conference from North and South Korea who talked about reuniting the countries.

He said listening to the students was a wake-up call and that people in America take so much for granted.

“The room was full of ambition- of the greatest leaders of tomorrow,” said White.

“It was an honor to be chosen to attend the conference.”

White and the other students at the conference participated in a six hour volunteer project.

White’s group was involved in the program “Hoops on the Hill.”

In this program, WNBA and NBA players raise money to buy bed nets which help cut down on malaria outbreaks.

“We need to get people to come to the HOBY conference,” said White.

“They need to realize what a great experience it is.”