What better way is there to start off the new year than by missing half of the first week of classes to fly to Alberta? The correct answer is: there is none.
By the time you’re reading this, a handful of your favourite Other Press staffers will have made their way to sunny Edmonton, AB to attend NASH76. For those of you unconnected to the world of student journalism, the acronym stands for a national conference held every year for emerging journalists/writers/editors to congregate and learn for five action-packed days. It’s like the Coachella of student journalism in Canada, but instead of headlining bands you have keynote speakers, you develop bags under your eyes instead of sunburns, and there’s more coffee than all of the Starbucks in the Lower Mainland combined. It’s a lot of fun and it’s one of the most rewarding take aways I have from my time at the paper.
It’s surreal for me to say, but this will be the fourth NASH conference I’ve attended. Each year I’ve had a different job position boasted on my name tag and each year I get my ass handed to me when I learn about stuff I didn’t even know I didn’t know. It’s both a refreshing and a sobering experience, and I thought I’d share with you some of the highlights from past years before making some new ones in Edmonton.
NASH73 (Montreal): Pardon the naïve and self-centred tone, but my first conference was also one of the first times it occurred to me that the Other Press might not be the only student newspaper in the entire universe. It was a blur of educational seminars; I spent about 15 minutes in a women’s washroom during the closing gala, waiting for a fellow editor to stop vomiting in one of the stalls; and someone recognized me as “that guy who wrote about extreme ironing,” which marked one of my proudest moments as a writer. To summarize, NASH73 was the beginning of a complicated, beautiful love affair. [Fun side note: the Opinions Editor roundtable also marked the first time I (sort of) met your now Life & Style Editor, Sophie Isbister. I was brand new to the position (I might’ve done one issue by that point) and Sophie was attending the conference as a delegate for the Cascade. I doubt I said a word during that entire roundtable, but I’m counting it as ground zero for our friendship.]
NASH74 (Victoria): While I continued to layer knowledge upon my journalistic foundation, NASH74 also taught me what Norwalk virus is and how to successfully avoid contracting it (some of my strategies included never leaving the hotel room and trusting no one). We were treated to a pseudo representation of what an apocalyptic outbreak would be like, as BC Health issued a voluntary quarantine and several members of our paper fell ill. Unrelated to viruses, this was also the year I started my torrid, one-sided romance with funnyman Chris Jones, though my affections may have simply been lying dormant since the beginning of time.
NASH75 (Toronto): Highlights include attending a gala at the CBC headquarters and when a certain Assistant Editor was denied entrance to Lee’s Palace because she had a bottle of open alcohol with her while she was talking to the bouncer. There may have also been a late-night quest for someone to get a piercing/tattoo, but luckily not a lot of body mod parlours are open at 2 a.m.
Four years ago, I remember thinking to myself how weird it was to have people at the conference who had been going for several years. I still can’t believe it’s been that long since my first time, but I’ve finally come to terms with it. The great thing about learning new things and improving your craft is it’s not a process limited to a few years; it’s something you should be doing your whole life. Be seeing you soon, Edmonton.
So it goes,