Vermont student attends World Summit in South Africa

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(Host) The United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development wrapped up Wednesday in South Africa. For one young Vermonter, the opportunity to participate in this gathering of world leaders proved to be an experience of a lifetime.

VPR’s Beth Schmidt has more from Johannesburg.

(Schmidt) One of the most visible differences between this World Summit and previous ones is the sheer number of young people taking part. One of these young people is Simon Isaacs. He’s a senior at Middlebury College. And he’s here at the Summit as an intern with the White River Junction-based Global Health Council.

Isaacs has interacted here with high level representatives from the health, environment and business sectors. He’s also taken part in meetings with Prime Ministers and other government officials. He admits this is heady stuff for a 22-year old from Norwich:

(Isaacs) “For me, it’s just been an invaluable experience. This is what I want to do with my life.”

(Schmidt) Isaacs has been encouraged by the way delegates to the World Summit have embraced young students like himself. He says it’s critical that today’s leaders listen to what the youth of the world have to say.

(Isaacs) “The participation of the young is incredibly important for sustainable development because we’re not only the leaders of the future, we’re partners for the present.”

(Schmidt) In Isaacs’ opinion, the one downside to the World Summit has been what he believes is the lack of importance and commitment that the Bush administration has shown toward this event.

(Isaacs) “As an American, that’s very frustrating. But it also says that I need to aspire to do something in the future and change this sort of mentality.”

(Schmidt) Isaacs says one day he hopes to run for public office and participate in more events like this one.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Beth Schmidt at the World Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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