SSA Conference 2012: A Behind the Table Take
The Secular Coalition for America made the trip out from Washington D.C. to attend the event, and, like many other organizations, we set up a table so that curious conference attendees could stop by. While there were many notable moments and events at SSA Conference 2012, surprisingly, the view from behind the table was among the most inspiring of them all.
The students who approached the various tables at the conference may have been hunting for stickers, pins, and jolly ranchers, but they were also looking for something else: “So how can I help?” was the most common question heard. When over three hundred dedicated young people are asking what they can do to make a difference, there is a good chance that they will make a change in the future. Yes, they had traveled from all over the country to hear advice and learn from their peers and more experienced speakers. However, they also seemed ready to take the next step beyond listening to other people talk; they were ready to act.
These students were all the more admirable considering the stories they would tell about why they were involved with secular issues. At school, at home, and in public places, many been subjected to discrimination of the sort that might cause less courageous people to be silent about their beliefs. From behind the table, I heard these stories, and watched friends help friends heal from hurtful experiences.
The staff and volunteers at the SSA clearly worked hard to bring everything and everyone together last weekend and they all deserve credit for this year’s gathering. Many people simply passing through the Student Union approached our table, and expressed support for the movement. Some Ohio State students working at nearby shops were surprised and excited that an organization like the SSA was in existence in the first place. If anything, these are signs that SSA has plenty of places to expand, and that conferences to come will continue to build on those of the past.
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