by Chelsea Tobin
Honestly, before I arrived, I was overwhelmed with schoolwork, but excited because I had never been to to Arizona. I was not sure what to expect. I had visited the Youth Leadership Camp twice during my experiences as NAD Miss Deaf America, and would the Jr. NAD Conference be similar or how would it be different?
Upon my arrival at the Tucson airport, I saw several groups from different schools for the Deaf and joined them. It was amusing because initially, they thought that I was either an advisor or a student, so it was slightly awkward saying that I am NAD Miss Deaf America. It took a bit for them to process…
…She is not a student delegate.
….nor is she an advisor.
…Oh wow. She’s Miss Deaf America.
Then I was bombarded with questions: “What’s your favorite place on your travels?” (Why, every state has its unique attributes, one thing is always memorable from each trip I’ve made representing NAD.) “Is your crown real?” (Yes, it is a crown!) “Will you present?” (You will see.)
The following evening, I had delicious Southwestern Mexican food at ASDB. I was able to find mild sauces, being the Midwestern… I consider ketchup, pepper and salt spicy!
At the Jr. NAD Conference, there were many different speakers with topics ranging from team building, multicultural; internet safety; Wayne Bett’s TV/Film production; time management (my topic, fitting isn’t it? Being a third year college student, farmer’s daughter, and NAD MDA! Sure hope I practice what I preach.); Gary Olsen, third executive director of the NAD gave a workshop, “Building Bridges to NAD,” Parliamentary procedure, and leadership.
The theme of the conference was “ Absorb the Power, Release the Empowerment”. The speakers came from across the nation, to empower the students from 28 schools. Isn’t the theme fitting? The presenters gave their presentations six times that week. It was quite the experience for this newbie, yet with my second leg of my journey as NAD Miss Deaf America, it was another thing to add to my list, “What I’ve Learned Being NAD Miss Deaf America”… how to give a presentation and repeat it six times over!
There were also different events throughout this week. On Wednesday, it was Ben’s Bells as a community activity and a dinner out on Main Gate Square at University of Arizona. Ben’s Bells, http://www.bensbells.org/, where it instilled the importance of being kind to strangers as it can make a difference, no matter how small it may appear!
On Thursday, with Halloween in mind, we went to a haunted Old Tucson, and had a ball there. I stayed close to a teacher from Delaware School for the Deaf and principal from Scranton State School for the Deaf along with a student from Delaware. They had fun scaring this weakling (me). To say the least, being alone outside on my farm (remember, I live in virtually in middle of nowhere, where you can see stars shining brightly!) is enough to creep me out!
On Friday, the students, advisors and NAD people enjoyed an evening of Mr. and Miss Junior NAD pageant where Mr. and Miss Jr. NAD, Travis Zornoza of Kentucky School for the Deaf and Chanel Gleicher of Maryland School for the Deaf were crowned and will appear at NAD conference in New Orleans, Louisiana!
Check their website at http://www.nad.org/2007jrnadconfblog.
On Saturday, a day at the desert ended with banquet at a gorgeous resort, Hacienda Del Sol Guest Resort, where we were able to be outdoors on October 20th and not be chilled at lovely 74 degrees (back at home, it was 45 degrees!) and enjoyed a Southwest Mexican supper! It was simply delicious and a wonderful closure to a superb week filled with activities and empowering opportunities for the students who attended the conference.
I truly enjoyed my week being able to meet with zealous students from 28 different schools, and being able to work with them during pageant rehearsal week and during the Junior NAD pageant. It was a magnificent opportunity for me to mingle with the delegates and their advisors.
To end this note, I can truly say that our future is within our youth that we are investing our time and effort into is paying off from my observations during the week at Jr. NAD conference.
Interested to experience it yourself as a student/advisor? Please contact Jennifer Yost Ortiz, Youth Programs Coordinator at www.nad.org/contactus.