Forty-six SHS students showed their spirit in their Area 11 “Heroic Hedgehog” T-shirts among the 4,000 high school students from around the Bay Area during the Interact Club rally at Independence High School on Oct. 9.
The rally kicked off an annual Interact district event, the Fall Leadership Conference (FLC), which is also one of Interact’s biggest events of the year. FLC offers seven service hours, leadership workshops and the chance to meet thousands of different high school students.
“FLC is one of the greatest representations of who we are as a club,” Interact co-president senior Mitali Shanbhag said. “Unlike a bunch of other service clubs, we don’t just do service. It’s not just putting volunteer hours, it’s really about interacting with those around you, and learning why people do what they do.”
The format of FLC stays the same each year, including a rally at the start, a keynote speaker, leadership workshops, project release and area chants, specific cheers for each area that end FLC with a positive note.
The content of FLC, however, changes each year. Leadership workshops are led by different people, and the community and international projects change.
This year, the community project is “The Circle of Love,” which focuses on fostering self-esteem and awareness of mental health, as well as providing care and support for students with disorders and disabilities, according to Interact co-president senior Jessy Liu. The district’s goal is to serve a total of 95,000 hours of community service [this year] in order to make an impact.
Interact officers have the duty to take inspiration from FLC and channel it into specific actions, Shanbhag said.
“This year will be about focusing on ourselves and people around us, trying to impact them on a smaller scale before we can take huge steps,” Shanbhag said. “This smaller focus will have a really great impact on a lot of individuals.”
Meanwhile, the international project, “Me the Human,” focuses on providing relief for Syrian refugees, Liu said. Refugee camps lack basic necessities such as food, water and medicine, and it is Interact’s goal to raise $120,000 to improve the situation.
Interact plans to fundraise and to educate students on campus in order to achieve this goal, Liu said.
“I think this year’s projects really stand out because they aren’t safe,” said Liu. “They’re controversial, sensitive and out of the box at the same time. Both topics are so prevalent in our lives and in global news today.”
Unlike previous years, Liu had a different role this year in FLC as a member on the Interact district council. Her job included coordinating her own leadership workshop with two other members of district council.
As a member on the district council, Liu was busy planning for FLC, so Shanbhag helped everyone coordinate rides, get their FLC gear and advertise for the event.
“FLC is by far one of my favorite events of the year simply because of its size and impact,” said Liu. “4,000 high school students in a united, inspirational, educational leadership conference — that’s what I call youth empowerment.”