Written by Youth Rep Enxhi Popa, from Somerville, Masachusetts.
Enxhi over here, writing my blog post as the ACE New England Youth Rep. A few weeks ago I went to West Virginia for a week for a congress called, The Student Climate Conservation Congress (SC3). This congress was inspiring, fun, and truly an adventure. The Congress started on Sunday night when all of the students arrived in the Washington DC Dulles airport. We then drove for two hours into West Virginia at the National Conservation Training Center. These facilities are run by the U.S. Department of Wildlife Service and are state of the art facilities. The center is located in a woody area, but the building are very high-technology. I was not quite sure what to expect. The first day I was just trying to soak in the beauty of my surroundings and all of the new faces around me. I met people from all over the United States and we also had a student from China and a girl from Columbia. My roommate was from California, and the other students in my group were from states all over the country.
The second day, we went rafting. I had never been rafting before, so this was a new thing that I was eager to experience. Rafting was a great bonding experience, as I really got to connect with the six students in my raft, especially with our funny and exciting rafting guide leading the way. We went down the Potomac River, and soon enough a big water fight broke. Where we all had buckets, which we filled up with water and sprayed at each other. We were all soaking wet after the trip. Except for the jokes we cracked and the water fight, it was a very special and serene experience to stroll down the river and take in the nature around. The green of the trees was everywhere. Looking at the flow of the water was so relaxing and calming. For two hours, the noise of the city, the buildings, the urban pollution, all disappeared and I was able to notice how truly magnificent nature is when it is so untouched and left in peace from human hands.
Throughout the week, many speakers spoke in front of us, and we watched many presentations. It was really cool to meet the maker of the movie 'King Corn' in person. I had watched the movie two or three years ago and now to be able to meet the person behind it all was super impressive. We even got to watch he second movie called Truck Farm, which is a very funny documentary about starting a farm on a truck and growing vegetables and herbs all year round. Some of the other inspirational speakers included a man who decided to not speak for 18 years and just listen. He literally went on a trip around America and did even say a word, not even once. He wanted to just listen to people, and their stories. It was fascinating to hear his stories, and his experiences of just "listening" as what he did. I think itt would practically impossible for me to do! Not speaking for so long must be a huge challenge since it takes a lot of internal strength and you must be very self-less. It made me realize that people do not listen enough. We love talking, especially about ourselves and our problems. However, it is good to also forget about our own personal lives and start listening to what other people have to say. That is something I learned from this experience that I will keep in mind from now own.
Overall, the SC3 was a week filled with great speakers, presentations, new people, and serene nature scenes. I will take a lot from that weekend and the amazing people I met there. From the different workshops to the rafting adventures, everyday at the congress was a special and memorable one. I am really happy that I got the chance to be able to partake in such an amazing trip and I have to thank ACE so much for introducing me to the congress and helping me get there. Thank you ACE and thank you readers for reading about this amazing experience. Keep up the green work!