By: Eric Storlie, Wisconsin

The mixer started out just like any other average dance party, complete with beach balls bouncing across the crowd and a group of Kentuckians with buckets on their heads dancing around in a conga line. It wasn’t until just a little after nine, however, that the real fun started.
Delegates blew up the balloons they had received earlier and were ordered to simply walk around, mingling with and high-fiving people they hadn’t met before. Suddenly, the music stopped and delegates had to form groups of eight people with their same balloon color. Pandemonium ensued as delegates rushed to group together as quickly as they could, a prize at stake for the quickest group. Once in their groups, delegates introduced themselves and told the other members some different facts about themselves, all meant to help establish new friendships. Eventually the first groups dissolved and the music started up again, the process repeating itself several times, with delegates grouping up based on different criteria each time the music stopped. Eventually the activity wore itself out and eager delegates popped their balloons after what was ultimately a very disorderly countdown.
Next came what was one of the most challenging events of the night: the delegates had to group up by state to form a human map of the United States on the Ware Pavilion. While the task at first seemed impossible, states soon started to form in their proper locations, with most groups even forming the rough shape of their state. After not too long, every state in attendance was in its proper place, and everyone felt quite accomplished. After much rejoicing and recognition of each state by the leaders of the event, delegates calmed themselves for the first devotional of the week.
Starting with a several quotes, from Gandhi to Michael Jackson, Presiding Officer Joe Gipson ended the night on a very touching note. His keynote speech focused on personal responsibility, both on and off the mountain, and how much it can change not only a delegate’s life but the life of all those with whom he or she interacts. Delegates sat silently and listened, absorbing all that they could for their delegation meetings later that night, where they would continue discussing responsibility and how it has affected them so far in the conference. It was, without a doubt, a touching and very important part of the night for everyone.

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