Former president visits Portola Valley | March 23, 2011 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - March 23, 2011

Former president visits Portola Valley

The author, Samantha Bergeson, is a resident of Portola Valley and a sophomore at Menlo School.

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 for more information.


Posted by Judith Rigas, a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm

A concise, well written and informative article. Well done, Samantha, you are destined to be a great journalist.

Posted by Former Prez's do bidness, a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 25, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Nice article, thanks!

I saw the fellow who followed Mr Clinton on the teevee machine, pleading with folks to buy his book.

Kind of the same, right?

Posted by lyn stein, a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Hi Samantha, What a wonderful opportunity you had to meet Mr.Clinton....Your article was outstanding and I have no doubt that this experience will help you in the future.....

Posted by realist, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 25, 2011 at 10:30 pm

If Samantha succeeds in her career -- and I certainly expect she will -- credit will be due the wealth and connections that allow her to attend Menlo and earned her the invitation to this exclusive dinner for rich donors, not her journalistic talents.

Posted by fyi realist by Mary Smith, a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Give credit to a 16 year old who is intelligent, an excellent student and a good writer. Do some homework and find out how many non wealthy students attend Menlo. She writes for her school paper and has written many articles for the Almanac while working there as an intern a job she applied for and earned on her own. She also does much volunteer work. What were you doing when you turned 16?

Posted by Avid Reader, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Town Square requests comments be respectful. This is a reminder to "realist"
Well done, Samantha, a well written and informative article.

Posted by Joy D, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 29, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Town Square requests comments to be respeectful. This is a reminder to "realist".
Well done, Samantha. Enjoyed your informative article.