Whata CONA!

The 2019 Conference on National Affairs Texas delegation wishes all of you a belated happy Independence Day!  An outstanding group of 24 students from the Houston, Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth Districts represented Texas (and its signature fast food restaurant!) with skill and grace at this annual YMCA national youth event.  Clad in Whataburger-themed t-shirts, Texas delegates came to CONA to present their proposals describing social problems and outlining related solutions.  This year, students addressed everything from trade unions to mental healthcare in juvenile detention to firearm policy to cybersecurity.  They initially shared their proposals with and received feedback from other delegates from other states during Proposal Sharing Groups Saturday night.

On Sunday, delegates participated in the CONA Opening Ceremony and began First Committee Hearings.  During each round of Committee Hearings, delegates debate and consider the pros and cons of their own and other delegates’ proposals, offering amendments to proposals in line with parliamentary procedure.  After delegates score each other’s proposals, a specified number of the highest scoring proposals from each Committee Hearing advance to the next round.  All delegates gather on the final day of CONA, the Fourth of July this year, to discuss the 12 highest-ranked proposals in a Plenary Session.  20 other very highly ranked proposals move on to the similarly prestigious General Assemblies.  This year, Aayush Dave’s proposal “to increase employment opportunities for ex-convict re-integration into society” was among them!

Texas YG is also celebrating all our delegates whose proposals advanced throughout the week of CONA.  Nine students had proposals move to Second Committee Hearings after First Committee Hearings concluded Monday!  Congratulations to Aayush, Chase Patterson, Nikash Harapanahalli, Alysha Orbach, Alyssa Mills, Kate Schulle, Amaris-Lynn Joubert, Peyton Childs, and Vivienne Garner.  Vivienne, Aayush, and Nikash all presented during Third Committee Hearings Tuesday as well.  The delegation ended that night at the annual CONA dance!

Our delegates had some free time Wednesday afternoon after watching Aayush present at General Assembly.  They could swim, hike in the mountains surrounding Blue Ridge, or tour the historic Biltmore Estate built for George Washington Vanderbilt II.  After Plenary Session Thursday morning, the Texas delegation ended CONA on an incredible high as Sharif Long, 2019 CONA Presiding Officer and 2017-2018 Texas Youth Governor, was on hand at the Awards Ceremony to witness Aayush Dave receive the same honor for CONA 2020.  Whata conference!  We’re so proud of all our students.

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Outgoing Presiding Officer Sharif Long and incoming Presiding Officer Aayush Dave celebrate with Legislative Section Leader Sue Six, State Director Angie Castilleja, and former State Director Suzanne Mabie.

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CONA Opening Ceremony!  Notice the Whataburger shirts.

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Delegation group photo!

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Texas YG seniors receive their CONA rocking chairs from the Blue Ridge craft shop.

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Thank you, delegates, for a fantastic national conference!