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Photo by Amulyah Anken

This conference is all about sharing ideas  and learning about what makes us different. When we see each other only by the opinions that divide us, we miss out on all that can bring us together. We can’t let our differences separate us, because at its core, this conference is about bringing people together. If we lose sight of that, we risk becoming like our current government, divided, listening only for our own chance to speak rather than understanding.

The four core values of the YMCA; Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility, are the building blocks of decorum and what makes this conference run, when they devolve the conference experience devolves. As the debate within the conference heats up, its noticeable that the decorum of some of the delegates melts away.

When a delegate speaks without any one of the core values, intentional or not, they take away from someone else’s conference experience. Taking time away from someone else’s proposal to speak on one that has already been settled is callous towards the author of the current proposal as well as the audience. When a delegate takes into account the popularity of the author, and not the credibility of the proposal during voting and ranking they’re being fraudulent to themselves and the other delegates in the program. Grandstanding and or filibustering on someone’s proposal is impertinent and rude. A delegate who uses a phone for reasons other than research in chambers is thoughtless to the feelings of the others.

These rules and expectations are set in place so that delegates can enjoy the conference without the fear of being belittling for what they believe.

We must take a stand against callousness and replace it with caring, remove fraudulence with honesty, impertinence with respect and thoughtlessness with responsibility.

Everyone on this Mountain is here for a reason. Whether they were elected, appointed or selected, everyone represents the best of what their state has to offer. It is humbling to be in the presence of so many brilliant minds, it’s a light in the darkness of the our current political climate. It gives hope that tomorrow will be a brighter day than the one before. But the only way to ensure the bright tomorrow we all desperately want, is to fix these issues today.

By Sarah Jones, DE


Despite differences in their program names, two delegations have found they have more in common than just a border and part of their state’s name. North and South Carolina shared a lunch to promote the exchange program they will be participating in for the coming Youth in/and Government program.



The leaders of the programs in the Carolina states decided while on The Mountain to begin a delegate exchange. From left Hunter Vaughan, John Bailey, Maile Paulmeier and John Acker. PHOTO by Caroline Bell.

The governors and lieutenant governors of both programs sat down to explain the who, what, when and why of the exchange.The masterminds of this exchange are Gov. Maile Paulmeier and Lt. Gov. John Acker of South Carolina, alongside North Carolina’s Gov. John Bailey and Lt. Gov. Hunter Vaughan. The idea for the exchange came from observing other programs, like Texas, Oklahoma and Minnesota, that participate in delegate exchanges, “… if they can do it, why can’t we,” said Bailey. One delegation sends a group to observe and vise versa. This is a brand new concept for both states, but one that they’re willing to embrace. “Lower county [elected leadership] already make waves given that most leadership comes from the Greenville area, so why not bridge the gap [between North and South Carolina],” said Acker. Bailey said everyone agreed that the main goal of the exchange would be to “learn how conferences are run, recruitment strategies, and the differences and similarities between the two conferences,” and “to expand opportunities outside of the state.”

Despite how well the two states meshed together since the inception of this idea, they were not each other’s first choice for a delegate exchange. It wasn’t until they got together at the Conference on National Affairs and got to know each other and saw how well their delegates meshed that they realized they were the obvious and best choice for an exchange. From the experience Paulimeier hopes in the exchange “… to bring our future leadership [of each respective conference] so that they can effect change after we’re gone.” There is so much to learn from the other, and it would be to both states’ advantage to take this opportunity. The exchange is a means to open the doors of both programs to other states to increase the potential learning opportunities for everyone involved.

By Sarah Jones, DE

While some CONA delegates struggle to adjust to life here without the use of the technology they use in day-to-day life, there is one delegate who’s doing just fine. James Jandro from Michigan evades that inconvenience by packing a typewriter along with his luggage.


Michigan delegate records his thoughts the old-fashioned way. PHOTOS by Brittany Wrzesinski, WA

At home, James uses his typewriter for essays and other assignments for school. He claims that the methodicalness of the typing, and the lack of the ability to erase, makes him more cognizant of what he is doing and also more relaxed. “I get a lot of great ideas when I’m typing on the typewriter,” said James. “Also my computer is really old and outdated … I found it a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable to actually type than to use, for lack of a better term, a ‘janky’ laptop,” he continued.

But, this buzzed-about typewriter, found at a Goodwill for just $5, is not the only antique that James owns. Among the three different typewriters, all from different decades, lies a collection of antique cameras, as well as a prized gas-guzzling, 1973 Buick Riviera. James has a passion for refurbishing the old and the neglected. Every antique he acquires he tries to restore, though he himself admits he’s better at restoring some over others.


James types away.

James regards his affinity for the retro as a normal part of his everyday life and marvels at the reaction it’s receiving on The Mountain. “Something that is a part of me and is me is recognized and for that I am flattered,” said James.

Article by Sarah Jones, DE and Beth Walker, NM

The role of the presiding officer is to maintain decorum amongst delegates and to ensure that every delegate gathered here on The Mountain has an enjoyable time. To be selected as a presiding officer is a great honor awarded to delegates who have been Copy of Zoe Bloomfield_by Caroline Bell.jpegchosen by committee. Today in an interview with Monday’s presiding officer, Zoe Bloomfield, she shared her thoughts and feelings on all things CONA 

The first thing Zoe shared was what it meant, specifically to her, to act as a presiding officer for the conference. “Being someone that can facilitate something so the delegates enjoy it to the umpteenth degree,” she said. Back in her New Jersey state programs Zoe was very active, “it was the thing [she] spent too much time on, probably more than homework,” she said recounting the four years she’d spent in both Youth and Government and model legislative conference. It was clear to see that both were near and dear to her heart. She came back to The Mountain this year because “this is the epitome of everything [she] loves about the program… [conference] was a place with such varied opinions and yet there was so much comfort so much empowerment.”  

The conference in general means a lot to Zoe and it showed in her passion as she spoke about the program. Beyond the program, Zoe is working on a dual degree in which she will spend two years in France at La Science Po, and then two years in America at UC Berkeley. Ultimately, her hard work will culminate in a bachelor’s degree from both universities. Zoe seems very excited to work on the program this year, and it’s that excitement that makes it clear to see that this year’s conference will be well looked after by all of our presiding officers.