National Conference on Citizenship
September 30, 2011
Last week I attended the 66th National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) in Phoenix, AZ. The Conference was held outside Washington, D.C. for the first time, and I was proud to be a participant. For those who are unfamiliar with the organization, Congress chartered the NCoC in 1953 to harness the patriotic energy and national civic involvement surrounding World War II. It is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that currently has four signature programs: the Civic Health Index, the Civic 100, Civic Nation, and the Annual Conference.
I decided to attend this conference since we are partnering with the NCoC on the Alabama Civic Health Index. A civic health index is a report written the focuses on a wide variety of civic indicators to elevate the discussion of civic responsibility. While attending this year’s conference, I had the opportunity to meet and converse with several individuals who are currently working on state civic health indexes. The conversations were a wonderful source of inspiration for me on how discussions based around the civic health index have lead to citizens taking ownership of public issues in their communities.
On the second day of the conference, I attended a panel featuring four individuals who discussed ideas related to civility in politics. This discussion started as a “blame it on someone else” event, but, as the conversation progressed, the group began to address how we change the current trend. I was especially intrigued by the ideas related to reaching across party lines to engage communities.
Following the panel discussion, I observed a naturalization ceremony where 20 individuals became official citizens of our country. I have never seen a naturalization ceremony, and I was very moved by their vows. The speaker for this event was Gerda Weissman Klein. She told the story of being a Holocaust survivor who became an official citizen of the US, and what it meant for her to be in a country she loved. Needless to say, she moved the entire audience to tears with her heartfelt story.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I am looking forward to continuing work on the Alabama Civic Health Index. For more information about the NCoC, please visit their website: http://www.ncoc.net .
– Ashley Kontos