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Tuesday June 30, 2015 Issue 4

Wednesday July 1, 2015 Issue 5

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Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.

James Farnsworth, MN, and Leah Schweibinz, NC

Seersucker Tuesday is a long- held tradition here at the Conference on National Affairs. Seersucker all began with a desperate need in Britain to stay cool, and we think we can speak for all delegates when we say bless the British for seersucker. It’s essential for staying cool on the mountain. While seersucker isn’t the only aspect of CONA fashion, it’s definitely the longest-lasting fashion mountain tradition.

Visit here to see a full gallery of photos from Seersucker Tuesday!

By Olivia Cornforth, OK

2751691807_dbcebbaa69_zRecently, much attention has surrounded the removal of Confederate flags from state grounds and merchandise resale centers across the country. Walmart, eBay and Amazon are among the corporations that removed products featuring the flag from their shelves, and the colors were taken down from flagpoles across the country. The place of the Confederate battle flag in modern America has been largely contested for years, but the current inflammation of the subject is largely attributed to this month’s tragic shooting in Charleston.

The controversy over the flag rests heavily on two opposing viewpoints. One side sees it as a glorification of the institution of slavery and other injustices, and the other sees it as a symbol of regional pride and dignity. The flag is prevalent in many areas of the southern United States and has been for generations.

“Personally, I find it offensive that the flags are still up,” LydiaPaige Moffett of Alabama said. “I feel like the flags should have gone down when the Confederates lost the war, not generations later. I think it’s a part of history, but I don’t think it’s a part of now.”

After the recent removal of the flag at the South Carolina Capitol by an equal rights activist, the debate on the flag’s position in society seems to be at the highest level it has been in years.

“I think it’s an important part of history,” Max Makin from Washington said. “I don’t know if it should be flown from a state Capitol building, but I think it’s an important part of the South and their regional pride, which they’ve had for a long time. So I’m not really sure where I stand on whether it should be flown, but I think it holds a lot of importance for a lot of people, and not necessarily because of the reasons many people associate it with.”

“I feel like it is celebrated as a regional pride way, but also it’s a symbol for racism and oppressive things,” Tyra Wilson of Alabama said. “If that equates with Southern pride, it’s bothersome to me.”

The controversy over the usage of the Confederate flag is not over, but hopefully our nation can find a balance between retaining regional pride and moving forward into the 21st century. It is always important to remember where we came from, but it is also important to remember where we are going. Now, it is America’s duty to determine if it wants the flag to hold a place in its future.

By Olivia Cornforth
Staff Writer
Delegates compare notes on their first day at CONA. --photo by Benjamin Hearn

Delegates compare notes on their first day at CONA.
— Photo by Benjamin Hearn

As a new session of the YMCA Conference on National Affairs unfolds, dozens of delegates climb the iconic Blue Ridge Mountains for their first conference. For many, stepping off the bus is a critical moment in the beginning of an amazing experience. The drive was long, but when I got here the view was great,” Maxx Cook of Missouri said.
From swapping shirts and pins with delegates from other states to getting up early in order to enjoy a few quiet moments on the porch of Eureka Hall, the first day of CONA is laden with new and unforgettable experiences. Despite some nervousness and initial intimidation, first-year delegates find ways to step out of their comfort zones and join in the fun.
“I’ve met such amazing people on this trip,” Michelle Adams of California said. “I’m astounded to see how spiritual, intellectual and exciting people are. I’m hoping to get more knowledge on other people’s opinions and their perspectives on things.”
On Sunday, new delegates bustled to their first proposal sharing group, the introductory step in the proposal presenting process. “I’m confident that everyone will blossom out of their shells during this experience, and hopefully I get to see that respected in a new way,” Adams said. “I want to see people cross party lines, racial lines, and just get out of their comfort zones. I’m excited for the opportunity to share my thoughts in a safe place.”

First-year delegates can feel the famous Blue Ridge Spirit. The friendliness of delegates and their willingness to listen to other perspectives are characteristics of CONA and the expanded comfort zone it creates. First-year attendees, like all other attendees, have an opportunity to participate in something life changing. As far as experiences go, first year delegates and returning delegates alike can agree that there is infinite potential in the upcoming week.

By Sonay Barazesh
BRJ Staff writer
Oblique_facade_3,_US_Supreme_Court (1)
Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States reached a landmark decision that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage. This decision was met with support of many young people all over the country. Coincidentally, this decision was made only days before CONA 2015 began.
Susanna Jaramillo from New Jersey was especially invested in the same-sex marriage debate and wrote her proposal on civil unions. “I think the decision was a long time coming and was an absolutely fantastic decision. Iʼm very very proud to be an American at this point in time,” she said.
Jaramillo was not alone in her support of the decision. Delegates from all over the country agree, including delegate Adam Casillas from Maine. “I am all in favor for it,” he said. “I am very happy for those who can now legally be married. I think it affects the attitude coming into CONA a lot — it shows that people have different beliefs but its an important thing to be completely accepting and open-minded to other beliefs.”
CONA is a unique opportunity for very different youths from many parts of the United States to interact and understand different opinions. The impact of this case has been clear in the CONA attitude this year already. Jaramillo said, “Iʼve talked to a lot of people here that have good feelings about the decision and many people share my opinion on it. Iʼm very glad to see that our younger generation is so in support of this decision.”
Furthermore, people with dissenting opinions have communicated in respectful ways. Pranav Parikh from the Model United Nations delegation has seen these conversations and believes CONA has fostered meaningful decisions. “The biggest thing here is making sure that weʼre not judging someone or blasting someone based on their opinion, because weʼre all entitled to our own views even if we don’t agree — that’s what makes this place great,” said Parikh.
By Michelle Chung, MA
Whether it’s your first or last year speaking at the Blue Ridge Mountain, every delegate attending CONA
is an intellectual, well-spoken, capable individual with the power to give their opinion with conviction and passion. However, in the nerves that may come with public speaking, it’s important to remember certain tips and tricks. Riley Ford of the Virginia Delegation recalls her first time giving a speech for her proposal. “The first time I ever spoke, I was shaking like a leaf. I wrote down my speech and my hands were shaking so badly that I couldn’t read what I had written…But after that first time, it got a lot better.” She remembers focusing on that fact.
Hundreds of delegates from all over the country come to CONA for a common reason: to speak and debate their proposals, so it’s imperative that each delegate takes the initiative to speak and make their time worth it. Mabel D’Souza of the Delaware Delegation reminds delegates to “practice, practice, practice. If you practice what you’re going to say, write it down, and know you’re confident in your speaking ability, that’s the best you could be.”
Lastly, delegates shouldn’t worry about making perfect speeches that are entirely articulate or look well-written on paper. While speakers should strive to use public speaking skills to get their point across, the point of CONA is to hear varying perspectives, voice our own thoughts, and form an opinion on different proposals that could change the nation. D’Souza, as a first-time committee chair, just hopes her delegates enjoy the CONA experience and the Blue Ridge Spirit. “I just hope my delegates in my committee have as much fun as they can. I’m a new committee chair as well, so I’m just as nervous as they are in how I’m going to present … Delegates should be relaxed and confident enough to be able to present their ideas without facing challenges or struggles like nervous breakdowns or people ridiculing them.”
CONA is an open, trusting, and welcoming place where all voices matter, and there is no doubt that every delegate will do a fantastic job during their committees, regardless of any nerves.
PlacardsBy Sonay Barazesh, NJ
BRJ Staff Writer
For almost five decades, hundreds of delegates have gathered at the Blue Ridge Assembly to partake in the Conference on National Affairs. Any delegate who has attended CONA can vouch for the unique experience of this week, which includes iconic Eureka Treats, seersucker suits and the “Blue Ridge Spirit.” This year marks the 48th conference. Up to 25 delegates from each of 40 states will gather. A record 772 delegates and adults from all over the country are expected to be in attendance this year. What makes CONA such a special experience is arguably the different delegates and world events each year. New Jersey Youth Governor Nick Pellitta will be attending his third conference this year and feels that every CONA he has attended was unique. “The Blue Ridge Spirit manifests itself in different ways almost every year,” he said. “Last year saw the World Cup going on during conference and being able to watch a USA game with a ton of other delegates and cheer together really brought us together.”
Last year’s conference was certainly memorable for Pellitta and many other delegates, but historically, there has been something different about every year. For example, in 1988, a French delegation attended the conference and, in 1989, a Soviet delegation attended as well. Throughout the years, CONA has expanded to include a consistent Model United Nations delegation and District of Columbia delegation.
While this year’s conference will make CONA history in its own unique way, some aspects of the mountain remain consistent year after year. As “Carolina in the Morning” plays at every crack of dawn and as delegates chat over Eureka treats, guests at the Blue Ridge Assembly know that the 48th year of conference will stay in the memory of delegates for years to come.