For reasons of safety, this post has been edited to maintain anonymity of the author.
Year one of college. I was a naive freshman looking to join every club that threw itself at me. Tunnel vision clouded my senses and I ignored the possible consequences that could come. I thought I was immune to irrational thought. It turned out that I was wrong.
Before attending the CFI Leadership Conference, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and now I can say I had no idea how much of an impact it would have on my ideas on skepticism, activism, and involvement in the movement. I never realized how big of a community skeptics, secular humanists, agnostics, atheists, etc. have. During the conference, there were well-informed speakers who went up and gave us tips on how we can grow our clubs on campus and how we can make sure they continue to be active after we are gone. There were so many ideas that we could use on our campus—I was trying to write them all down! (After a while I realized that maybe I should just wait and ask to get a copy of the presentations.) During the breaks and meals I was so excited to meet new people from other college campuses. I was surprised whenever I met someone who would share the same excitement and enthusiasm as I had.
I have been a big fan of CFI since I started reading Skeptical Inquirer as a kid. When I eventually started a skeptics club on my campus, CFI was eager to help; they sent boxes of swag and connected me with amazing guest speakers. This summer, they were gracious enough to invite me to the CFI Leadership Conference at CFI headquarters in New York state. I really wanted to go, but I figured that it was too far away as I live in Vancouver, Canada. Imagine my delight when CFI offered to pay for my travel expenses! In my mind, it would have been both foolish and rude to decline.
On June 17, 2015, white nationalist Dylann Roof entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and shot nine members of that church’s black congregation. Upon being arrested, Roof was discovered to have made numerous online postings about his racial views, including photographs of him draped in the flag of the Confederate States of America. As such, the past few months have seen the reigniting of a debate which has been going on since our Civil War: is it right for southern states to continue waving their flag of secession and slavery?
What did I enjoy at the 2015 CFI Leadership Conference? So much! Seriously, I can’t quantify how much leadership training and information was packed into that weekend, and I think my lack of sleep over the weekend can attest to that. I don’t have the space, and you probably don’t have the time to read all of the things I’ve learned, so I’ll just share some of my favorite parts of the conference.