BRAfromaboveBy Carter Coudriet, NJ
2015 Media Director
“Sit down and talk to somebody you’ve never met.”
“Really get to know somebody you thought you knew in your delegation.”
“Try to speak in debate, even if you’re terrified.”
“Experiment in a new part of media.”
Chances are that, by the time you are reading this, you have heard at least one of these statements about what to do at the Conference on National Affairs. There are a million ways to try to find the “Blue Ridge Spirit” on the mountain, and I am sure I speak for many CONA veterans when I say that we returners want to help the newcomers feel all million of them. However, as media delegate Sonay Barazesh writes in a different article of The Blue Ridge Journal, each CONA experience is different. This difference is not only derived from the change of year; rather, it is driven primarily by the incredibly diverse backgrounds, styles and goals of the delegates who join a family of thousands of prior guests on the mountain. For this reason, I hope that every delegate, adviser, staffer and guest remembers this: There have been a million ways to experience the Blue Ridge Spirit, but what truly unlocks the power of conference is finding the 1,000,001st way. There is so much about ourselves, our friends, our role models and beliefs that is buried by the real world. The reason CONA has been the most potent catalyst for growth in my own life is because I, who was admittedly just as skeptical about the existence of a “Blue Ridge Spirit” as one can be when I first came here, stopped working through CONA the way I thought it was “supposed” to be done and started letting the conference work through me.
Every delegate here — whether a debater, journalist, officer, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Northerner, Southerner, Westerner, young, old, new, experienced or coming from any other story — has the truly remarkable opportunity to grow here. Mountains are unmoving, but this one moved me, and I hope it moves you.