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September 18, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

Sun Youth Forum: Discussion prepares youth for future

Alec Rogers of Foothill High School - 2011 Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum representative Tuesday, November 22, 2011.

Alec Rogers of Foothill High School - 2011 Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum representative Tuesday, November 22, 2011.

About 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 55th annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 22. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A representative was chosen from each group to write a column about the students’ findings. Alec Rogers of Foothill High School writes about issues covered by his group, “Around the World.”

If you put a group of kids with different ideas in a room, what would happen? Would they tear each other apart? Well, at this year’s Sun Youth Forum, a large turnout happened. The forum had more than 1,000 kids there just to talk about what is going on in their lives and around the whole world. Not only does this show how much teenagers today care; it broadened the mindset of everyone at the event.

My group started out by taking a note card and seeing how many times we could fold it — it turns out infinitely. This was compared to the teens sitting in the room — their mindsets, ideals and feelings toward every topic outlined in our discussions. This idea hit every kid differently — some tried to change their minds, but others went along with it and let them express themselves. This led to a very open and broad discussion.

Now, my group talked about some of the main issues plaguing the world, from Taiwan to the nuclear issues in Iran, but the main thing that got everyone going was the global economy. I opened the floor to general comments and a few points of clarification for those who were not up-to-date. Then we realized a very large problem: Everybody owes everyone else money. Many students believe that we should take precautions and not throw our money to people and don’t openly take it. Shakespeare had it right.

That brought us to our next topic: We give a large amount of foreign aid to countries around the world, but we do not always know what they do with it. The group had an idea of making foreign aid like a grant system. The country with the aid should have to document everything it spends so American taxpayers can access the information and see exactly where our money has gone.

The group mainly focused on the economy because it is such a large issue in the world today, but another topic that got everyone’s hand in the air was troop levels in the world, more specifically in Japan and Germany. Students would often wonder if we are needed in these countries, but mainly we would have to determine if we are contractually obligated to stay in such countries, like Japan. Japan cannot have a standing offensive military, so the United States is there to simply be its guardian angel.

Another student pointed out that our troops do not always behave in those countries, and that has tarnished our image, so why do we spend tax dollars to keep them there?

Students had their say in affairs that adults today barely talk about. This truly brought out the idea that future politicians and leaders were sitting in that room, ready for what is to come. The Sun Youth Forum was a fantastic, eye-opening experience that prepared me for my future and brought about the idea that there is a lot in this world that we do not hear about every day that still affects us in some way, shape or form.