By Samantha Bergeson
It was not your typical weekday school night with homework assignments and a rushed dinner. Instead, my friends and I got to meet former president Bill Clinton at a Portola Valley home, where he had come to talk about his Clinton Global Initiative, which mobilizes resources and world leaders to tackle some of the world's most pressing problems.
The invitation-only dinner and fundraiser, held in early December, focused on opportunities to prevent climate change, but Mr. Clinton also discussed the AIDS epidemic, micro-financing in Ethiopia, and how he built the Global Initiative.
After driving through multiple security checkpoints, we were ushered into the comfortable living room of the home, with guests ringing with anticipation for the arrival of the former president.
Approximately 30 people — mainly adults but a few teenagers as well — attended. Mr. Clinton met with each visitor, expressing interest about personal details such as family life and where their children went to school.
While raising funds for the Global Initiative was the primary purpose of the evening, the guests also had the opportunity to discuss current political and social issues.
Mr. Clinton, with his eloquence and charismatic presence, created an eventful occasion out of what I had expected to be a stuffy formal evening with a former president.
The Global Initiative, as he explained, was established in 2005 to forge partnerships between leaders of governments, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to devise a plan of action to attack global problems.
As a result of commitments to action by these leaders, Mr. Clinton said, more than 2 million girls have received grants for schooling, 75 million children have been given access to sustainable health care, and nearly 20 million people have increased access to clean water. Roughly, $1.75 billion has been invested in or loaned to small companies across the globe.
Within developing countries such as Malawi and Haiti, health is a driving factor. Hundreds of hospitals have been built in Malawi with the goal of putting a medical center within walking distance of many citizens.
During the evening, teenagers and parents alike participated in discussions regarding national healthcare and global issues such as disease-prevention.
Mr. Clinton challenged the students attending to sets goals for themselves, and strive for international change.
After three hours of dining and mingling, Mr. Clinton closed the evening, and I promptly left to finish my math homework.
Visit clintonglobalinitiative.org for more information.
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