Archives for posts with tag: CONA2013

Needs Croppin
Carter Courdriet, NJ
Staff Writer

A key component of the YMCA is its promotion of youth development, especially as a member of a community. By acquainting delegates with the legislative process and affording them the opportunity to interact with students from across America, programs like the Conference on National Affairs embody this goal.

“Seeing everyone’s different ideas and how much they really respect each other has helped me to respect other people for what they believe in,” commented Texan Michael Kmetz. The civic experience offered by CONA provides a unique opportunity for teenagers to learn about government involvement. Roughly 600 CONA delegates and thousands of YAG/YIG delegates nationwide explore their counterparts’ diverse views while discovering their own stances.

“It’s helped me understand people,” said Mohammed Jagana from Washington. “Being able to see other people’s perspective means I’m not judging. Actually approaching an understanding helps me be more open minded.”

Serving as an officer at CONA presents a unique opportunity to grow. On the mountain,delegates who serve as chairs,Conference Life Committee representatives, or media officers work with their peers while learning to improve their own characters. “Being an officer at CONA has given me confidence,” reflected New Mexico delegate Nathan Cowan “This really put me into my element and I really appreciate it.”


By Eriech Tapia, OK

Staff Writer

Filled with handshaking games, state dance offs and upbeat mixing and mingling, Partying USA style was the theme for Monday night’s dance. “This is definitely getting me in the Blue Ridge spirit,” said Dino Nzanga Jr. of Washington. At the beginning of the party, volunteers made something out of a balloon that represented the Blue Ridge Spirit. Then, three delegates were chosen as the best and received a prize.

“Definitely an honor to win the first award of the night,” said Amber Stull of Indiana, who made a pretzel out of her balloon.

Ashley Kolaya, the host of the dance, led games filled with high energy and dancing, pushing delegates to step outside their comfort zones.

“It seemed like people got to know each other and also got to know somebody from another delegation,” Kolaya said.

A few of the games included getting in groups with other delegates, then meeting somebody within that group and creating a crazy handshake.

“I liked the handshakes and how they played music too,” Casey Bertelsman of Missouri said. During one of the handshakes, delegates had to ask their partners what they would fill a bathtub up with. “If I could fill up a bathtub (with anything), I would fill it up with Nutella and then I would eat all of it, because Nutella is the bomb!” said Anand Macherla of New Mexico. Another game Kolaya introduced to the delegates was a state dance contest. Dancing was the main part of the night with nearly everyone getting the dance moves on between games.

“I was wicked excited to get my moves on,” Julia Oldakowski of Model United Nations said. The annual conference closing dance will be at 8:30 p.m.Thursday and the attire is red, white and denim.

The #CONA2013 ‘s first broadcast is now available on mobile.


Carter Courdriet, NJ

Staff Writer

“It was just unnerving. I saw pictures of people kayaking through towns I grew up in that are just gone now. It was like the whole world got turned upside-down.”

In the line of fire of the worst natural disaster to ever face the Garden State, Model United Nations delegate Aiden Byrnes from New Jersey and others were riveted by Hurricane Sandy. Ripping through the Eastern Time Zone last October, the superstorm caused over a billion dollars in damage and much of the East Coast, including the famous Jersey Shore, in shambles. In the midst of a devastated environment, many New Jerseyans were displaced and without power for days.

“I lost power for 16 days, and I moved out of my house for a week,” commented New Jersey delegate Matthew Bringuier, whose Cranford home is less than 15 miles from the shore and directly in the hurricane’s path. “I couldn’t get across town, and I had to wait in gas lines for hours. I was out of school for two weeks.”

The same scene was set across the region. 8 million households along the East Coast were without power, including 1.3 million from New Jersey, ranging anywhere from a day to an entire month. Many of the affected households still haven’t been restored from the superstorm’s effects. Gas prices skyrocketed as families sometimes waited hours to fill up their cars or containers for generators.

However, the most amazing aspect of the situation was how active residents of the Garden State and its neighbors have been in assisting their neighbors. Even when their own houses were flooded or powerless, many Youth and Government delegates and other youths came together to help those whose houses and properties had been demolished.

“Coming from a place where I had never faced real adversity, it was actually rewarding going through the storm to watch a community come together and epitomize what it means to be ‘Jersey Strong,’” reflected Bringuier.

With the help of governmental aid and assistance from non-profit organizations like Restore the Shore, New Jersey and its Mid-Atlantic counterparts continue to beat the storm and emerge greater than before

Alanna Mustin, Pennsylvania

Staff Writer

Pennsylvania delegate Kelly McGuire furiously wrote down closing statements for her proposal as a delegate gave the final con speech. McGuire’s proposal, “To remove ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance,” garnered a large amount of opposition from the other delegates in her committee.

“Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, which states that we are endowed by our creator, which is most likely God,” an opposing delegate argued.

“As I see it, my creators are my mother and father, but that’s a discussion for another day,” McGuire rebutted as the gavel struck, announcing her two minutes were up.

Her proposal’s major con was reiterated multiple times: United States citizens do not have to say the pledge. This enraged McGuire, “I love my country, I’m proud of my country, but I don’t affiliate with God,” she stated, “one in five Americans now identify as having no religion; they’re now (one of) the fastest growing minority -we need to stick up for that minority.”

Hands flew up instantly to speak against McGuire’s proposal; however, Arizona delegate Pat Johnson’s proposal, “A Proposal to Empower a Secular America”, had a similar purpose, yet met barely any antagonism in comparison. Johnson also proposed replacing “In God We Trust” with “E Pluribus Unum” (Of Many, One) and eliminating vouchers for private religious education that are paid for by taxpayer dollars. Most delegates ignored the secular changes that would be implemented and, instead, focused on the vouchers aspect, which caused barely any major dispute.

One would think that with such similar topics the two would share views on religion, but that is not the case: McGuire does not affiliate with any religion while Johnson identifies as Catholic.

Of course, with approximately six hundred teenagers gathered in one place, there should be a multitude of different points of views on religion; however, the Blue Ridge Assembly was founded on a Christian ideals and values. Creator Dr. Willis D. Weatherford constructed the Assembly as an interdenominational Christian conference and training center and recruited workers with four basic principles: respect, honesty, responsibility, and caring. Some states have decided to add a fifth core value: faith. The Blue Ridge Assembly, however, has not made faith a fifth core value of its facility.

McGuire considers the core value “faith” to have different meanings than just believing in God. “Faith to me means believing in people and the future ahead of us rather than a higher deity,” she explained. Though she is not religious, one of her favorite parts of the Conference On National Affairs is the open minded and accepting blessings before each meal.

“I love how CONA tries to incorporate a lot of different faiths,” Johnson elucidated. “Of course, it has a Christian focus, though, since the YMCA is a Christian organization.” He feels like CONA is such a diverse place with so many different religions that some of the others should get some more focus as well.

By Carter Coudriet, NJ

Staff Writer

As the two aspects of the YMCA Youth Conference on National Affairs, legislative and Media Corps delegates have many opportunities to interact. Missouri’s Tom Ratliff and Ohio’s Kyle Denman switched their focus areas and have an unique perspective on these two aspects of CONA

Tom Ratliff, Missouri
Ratliff was a legislative delegate last year. This year, he is serving on the Media Corps’ broadcasting team.

Q: What was your bill about last year, and how far in committee did you go?
A: The lack of production of certain cancer treating medicines. I didn’t make it out of First Committee.
Q: Why did you decide to switch from being a legislative delegate to a media delegate?
A: I’ve done media my entire life, and the only reason I did legislative last year is because all of our media spots were full.
Q: Has your legislative involvement helped your media experience?
A: Yes, because I have a better understanding of when to be at certain committees and when certain things are happening.
Q: Which area is better?
A: Media is 100 times better than legislative.

Kyle Denman, Ohio
Last year, Denman won the Outstanding Media Delegate award. This year, he is participating in the legislative program area.

Q: What did you do with media last year?
A: I worked in a little bit of broadcasting, I wrote a few stories, and I took a few pictures. I tried my best to get active in every part of media.
Q: Why did you decide to switch from being a media delegate to a legislative delegate?
A: Originally I was in legislative, but due to some complications in my health, I didn’t have time to write a bill. I decided to switch because I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of CONA.
Q: Has your media experience enhanced your legislative experience?
A: I would say that it made me more confident. Being on broadcasting made me feel uncomfortable, but now I think it definitely boosted my confidence.
Q: Which area is better?
A: They’re both great in their own way


Room: Blue Ridge Center- Chapel

Proposal First Name Last Name Delegation

39 Gabriel Klotz Michigan

392 Fletcher Lyon Kentucky

81 Joe Russell Arizona

464 Harrison Vollmer Florida

293 Taylor Bates Tennessee

60 Joey Hildebrandt Virginia

82 Sydney Salazar Arizona

372 Jeremiah Benes Texas

79 Carlos Ochoa Arizona

341 Libby Kaye Wuller Oklahoma

306 James McGinnity Tennessee

265 Victor Vuong Massachusetts

348 Tom Jacobs New York

167.01 Erik Rauterkus Pennsylvania

167.02 Montanna Brown Massachusetts

167.03 Valeria Ojeda New Mexico

521 Chandler Pruitt Texas

342.01 Calli Umipig Pennsylvania

342.02 Abigail Baldwin Michigan

249 Jake Hemmings Alabama

55 Sam Leichenger California

399 Jordan Victorian Louisiana

218 Emily Vigliotta New York

260 Victor Agbafe North Carolina

Check all four Calendars.
If a delegate’s Proposal passed 2nd Committee the delegate may be assigned to a new 3rd Committee. Committee White has 22 Proposals due to a tie score. Red, Blue, Gold have 21.

Committee: Gold

Room: Heaton Hall Auditorium

Proposal First Name Last Name Delegation

40 Ben Monticello Michigan

137 Mark Hagemann Model UN

436.01 Anand Macherla New Mexico

436.02 Cali Foster Virginia

436.03 Liz Levine Connecticut

436.04 Sophia Holbrook California

436.05 Julia Oldakowski Model UN

439 Martin Beer California

34 Amanda Johnson Michigan

216 Kelsey Barnett New York

462 Matt Keen Florida

248.01 Noah Crawford Alabama

248.02 Kristina Hufnagle Minnesota

248.03 Alexandria Moore New Mexico

155 Handong Park Model UN

199 Ankit Bilgi South Carolina

62 Joseph Melton Virginia

507 Zaverie Harris Texas

103 Andrew Jones Connecticut

354 Pierce Shipway North Carolina

360 Hailey Huffman Oklahoma

83 Ally Dove California

515.01 Griffin Gibson Texas

515.02 Nida Ansari South Carolina

438 Connor O’Connell California

307 Won Taek Shin Tennessee

473 Kathryn James Louisiana

6 Shyamala Ramakrishna New Jersey


Check all four Calendars.
If a delegate’s Proposal passed 2nd Committee the delegate may be assigned to a new 3rd Committee. Committee White has 22 Proposals due to a tie score. Red, Blue, Gold have 21.

Committee: Red

Room: Washburn-Auditorium

Proposal First Name Last Name Delegation

514 Shireen Bell Texas

145 Aidan Hughes Model UN

202 William Cummings South Carolina

11 Zack Perkins New Jersey

159 Gage Robelen Oklahoma

229 Lewis Fitzpatrick Alabama

246.01 Ben Jackson Alabama

246.02 Nick Betts Kentucky

569 Chandler Bueche Louisiana

52 Spencer Perry California

38 Taylor Vaughn Michigan

48.01 Lauren Courtney Michigan

48.02 Elise Redetzke Minnesota

194.01 Kaitlin McClamrock South Carolina

194.02 Jarrett Major Louisiana

162 Brock Trotter Oklahoma

271 Oliver Farnum Massachusetts

550 Arany Uthayakumar California

482 Trey Menville Louisiana

117 Jack Ellis Minnesota

513 Claire Cahoon Texas

328 Caroline Tervo North Carolina

374 Cameron Burleson Texas

151 Andrei Camurungan Model UN

Check all four Calendars.

If a delegate’s Proposal passed 2nd Committee the delegate may be assigned to a new 3rd Committee. Committee White has 22 Proposals due to a tie score. Red, Blue, Gold have 21.

Committee: White

Room: Blue Ridge Center-Region Room

Proposal First Name Last Name Delegation

495 Nathan Cowan New Mexico

187 Mohit Gandhi South Carolina

238.01 Read Mills Alabama

238.02 Taylor Whittaker Connecticut

85 Mikaela Moore California

315 Jackson Myers Tennessee

467 Kylie Werk Florida

209 DeVar Jones New York

86 Becca Lamb California

149 Gabriel Harrison Model UN

296 Michael Li Tennessee

91 Ezra Goss California

470 Patrick Flanigan Louisiana

489.01 Anthony Carroll New Mexico

489.02 Rachel Newhall California

370 Kyle Denman Ohio

389 Jeremy Ball Kentucky

373 Alyssa Mastronardi Texas

380 Jody Dahmer Kentucky

24 Thomas Carroll New Jersey

502 Lorenzo Barberis Canonico South Carolina

298 Bryce Prior Tennessee

146 Nick Pellitta Model UN

230.01 Zijie Yin Alabama

230.02 Christopher Jordan Arizona

371.01 Pooja Patel Texas

371.02 Christina Martin Pennsylvania

371.03 Bhuvnaa Mahajan Florida


Check all four Calendars.

If a delegate’s Proposal passed 2nd Committee the delegate may be assigned to a new 3rd Committee. Committee White has 22 Proposals due to a tie score. Red, Blue, Gold have 21.