A Calvert High School student turned a local leadership program into an international experience.
Senior Lauren Reineke attended the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership program at Ohio Northern University a year ago and then, as a HOBY alumna, applied to participate in the third annual Albert Schweitzer's Leadership for Life international youth leadership conference.
Reineke was accepted to take a trip to Ireland July 24-Aug. 1. She said the trip was a great experience.
"I would do it again in a heartbeat," she said.
Reineke said an e-mail was sent to HOBY alumni about the Ireland trip, and she had to send in an application. Participants were selected on a first-come, first-serve basis, and she said it was exciting to learn she had been selected.
"That was my first time (out of the country)," she said.
Reineke was one of about 200 students from all over the world and one of seven representing HOBY who participated in the program.
"At that youth leadership (program), there were other countries (represented), Lithuania, South Korea, India, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Palestine," she said.
Participants in the program are taught the value of volunteering and are encouraged to "pay it forward" by taking on projects that benefit neighbors, neighborhoods, schools, churches, young and old, according to its website.
Reineke said the program featured keynote speakers and an interactive book with leadership lessons, and participants took on world issues, such as the environment, health and nutrition around the world.
"It was very similar to HOBY. ... You had guidelines that you had to follow for the youth leadership program, just learning about leadership and things like that," she said.
Reineke said she enjoyed everything about the trip, which was a new experience. She said it was interesting getting to know people from other countries, and meeting new people was a benefit of the program.
The seven HOBY participants were from New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.
"I knew no one going into this trip," she said.
Reineke's journey to Ireland started a year ago when she participated in HOBY in Ada. The program included speakers, workshops and a day of community service that included participants volunteering to do various tasks around the community.
"It was amazing," she said about the experience. "They had so many amazing speakers."
Reineke said attending the program was a great experience, and she got to know new people from around the area and learn leadership skills.
"It was really motivational," she said.
On the Web:
Albert Schweitzer's Leadership for Life: