High school students around the Valley are enriched at Desert Town Hall meeting
by Christopher Livingston
High school students, as part of the Youth Ambassador Program, attended a speaking engagement at the Renaissance Esmeralda Hotel in Indian Wells featuring former United States Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. Gates spoke at length about his past experiences and his current success, as Valley students listened closely, hoping to gain valuable insights from Gates, who had served as Defense Secretary since 2006.
The Youth Ambassador event, which took place on March 5, started off with a speech from Denise Goolsby, reporter for The Desert Sun, who writes feature stories on World War II veterans. After explaining her experiences with speaking to veterans, Goolsby took questions from the students about the technique, style, and emotion involved in her writing. “There’s a lot of fact checking involved in producing stories, and making sure the veterans are telling the truth about their experiences,” she said, when asked about gathering the material for her articles.
After Goolsby’s speech, Gates spoke with the young ambassadors for 15 minutes before going into the Emerald Ballroom to address a crowd of dignitaries. His speech was also simulcast in the ballroom via a video feed. After commencing his speech with a few anecdotal jokes, Gates then addressed international security concerns and American foreign relations. The three foreign countries he touched upon were Iran, China and Russia.
However, Gates also took time to address concerns within the United States. Among these concerns expressed are partisanship and an unwillingness to compromise at the political level. He also blamed the media as being a catalyst for internal political dissension. “The change in [the] composition of the news leads [to] widespread dissemination of every point of view,” he remarked.
After the speech, the youth held a discussion about Dr. Gates’ remarks. Doug Miller, who is in charge of the Youth Ambassador Program, says the event garnered its largest crowd to date – 170 students.
The next Desert Town Hall meeting will take place on Thursday, April 5. Bob Ballard, the oceanographer who discovered the Titanic, is scheduled to speak.