Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) is the largest student-led business organization in the world with over a quarter million members in the United States and several foreign countries. With its diverse activities and numerous competitive events, FBLA is preparing students for careers in business, promotes creativity, enhances public speaking and presentation skills, and fosters leadership.
Senior Edwin Bodoni and Junior Evelyn Bodoni are members of the FBLA chapter at Cherry Creek High School (Creek). They have been passionately engaged in FBLA since freshman year. Because they firmly believe that FBLA is a great organization, when presented with the opportunity to promote FBLA on a global level, the Bodoni siblings did not hesitate to share their FBLA experience and inspire youth world-wide to participate in FBLA. After months of preparation, they recruited a delegation and traveled to Budapest in January 2018 and to Dar es Salaam in July 2018 to introduce FBLA in Hungary and Tanzania. Enthusiasm for FBLA was extraordinary and nine high schools implemented FBLA chapters with total membership exceeding 600 students.
Edwin and Evelyn Bodoni – Hungarian FBLA Winter Leadership Conference at Toldy Ferenc Gimnazium, Budapest, Hungary
Student Information Session at Alpha High School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
To financially support these new foreign FBLA chapters, Edwin and Evelyn established Global Outreach FBLA (GOFBLA), a Colorado-based 501(c)3 nonprofit, with the mission to promote leadership and expose youth in developing countries to business and entrepreneurial experiences by encouraging them to participate in FBLA. Inspiring youth to take initiative is key to progress and improvement. GOFBLA is committed to investing in student learning and teacher training without cost to the schools, government, or parents.
The Bodonis’ goal for 2019 is to raise enough funds to sponsor eight students (four from Tanzania and four from Hungary) and three teachers (two from Tanzania and one from Hungary) to attend and compete at the 2019 FBLA National Leadership Conference (NLC), hosted in San Antonio, Texas, in June 2019. However, to carry out such an ambitious plan, they asked their fellow Creek FBLA chapter members and their Creek chapter advisors (Mr. Michael Goodman and Mrs. Jennifer Sheets) for help and support. All Creek FBLA chapter members accepted the challenge to be part of this endeavor and were actively involved in at least one aspect of this undertaking. The tasks included: mentorship, fundraising, and planning the trip to the 2019 NLC. As part of the Community Service Committee (chaired by Creek FBLA President, Edwin Bodoni), the following sub-committees were established: Mentorship Committee (chaired by Creek FBLA Officer, Mariam Gopalani), Fundraising Committee (chaired by Creek FBLA Officer, Evelyn Bodoni), Marketing/Publicity Committee (chaired by Creek FBLA Officer, Abhinav Kakumanu), and NLC Planning Committee (chaired by Creek FBLA member, Melanie Gong).
In November 2018, the Tanzanian FBLA chapters ran their first ever regional competitions, in which over three hundred students competed in objective tests and live events. In December 2018, twenty-six students were named national finalists, and competed in the final round of the Tanzanian FBLA National Competition, which ranked the top ten students in Tanzania. 2019 Tanzanian FBLA National Competition Awards Ceremony
2019 Hungarian FBLA National Competition
Students Taking FBLA Objective Tests
The Hungarian chapter conducted their Qualifying National FBLA Competition for the 2019 NLC in early February and qualified fourteen students for the NLC. Seven students were named finalists and were considered for the Grand Awards. The Grand Award is an all-expense paid trip to compete at the 2019 FBLA NLC, which includes airfare, lodging, traveler’s insurance, ground transportation, sightseeing, conference registration fees, food and beverages, and other miscellaneous expenses.
To provide potential contributors with more information about this program and to be able to accept online donations, the fundraising campaign started by creating a website for Global Outreach FBLA (www.globaloutreachfbla.org). Then, each Creek FBLA member was asked to identify possible corporate sponsors and local businesses that could be approached for donations. So far, approximately thirty business professionals from the United States, Hungary, and Tanzania were asked for donations. Although GOFBLA has already received close to $15,000 in donations, the Creek FBLA chapter members hope to still receive more contributions, as their fundraising campaign is only in its initial stage.
Participating at the NLC will be a great experience for both the Tanzanian and the Hungarian students and teachers (FBLA advisors). By attending workshops, competing in their events, and networking with their peers, students will be given the chance to grow as leaders and learn how to improve their own chapters. The impact peer mentorship has on students cannot be overstated. For teachers, who also serve as FBLA advisors, coming to the FBLA NLC will be an invaluable opportunity for professional development and acquiring new skills which will prepare them better to guide, support, and inspire their students as they continue their journey through FBLA in the following school year. Upon returning to Tanzania and Hungary, students and teachers alike will be able share the expertise acquired at the NLC with their peers, bringing refreshing new ideas towards improving their schools and communities.
Introducing FBLA in Hungary and Tanzania is one way to implement much needed change to these countries’ education systems. Still scarred by decades of communism in Hungary and plagued by poverty in Tanzania, the education systems in both these countries are antiquated, characterized by teacher-driven learning which does not foster critical thinking and initiative, and fall short in preparing youth for our global economy. Leadership and hands-on skills are in high demand in both Hungary and Tanzania, in which students are very well educated theoretically but lack opportunities to apply their abilities in a practical way. Especially in Tanzania, students often leave high school without employable skills, bringing youth unemployment to a staggering 50%.
By participating in FBLA, the Hungarian and Tanzanian students gained increased access to business materials and hands-on resources, awakening them to a world beyond the classroom and enabling them to understand the enormous potential business skills can have on their future. By serving as FBLA advisors, their teachers were exposed to new ways of thinking and novel ways of teaching. In both Tanzania and Hungary student-teacher interactions occur strictly in the classroom. Through FBLA, students and teachers get to collaborate and discover new skills together, as a team. Edwin and Evelyn Bodoni hope that Global Outreach FBLA introduced valuable new opportunities to high school students in developing countries, empowering them to take initiative and assume leadership.
Through GOFBLA, the Creek FBLA chapter members will continue their outreach efforts and expand this program to other countries. This experience helped them realize that it is possible to dream big and create a positive impact in the international arena. The Creek FBLA chapter members are not only future business leaders of America, but also the future business leaders of the world.