Friday, August 31, 2012

Romney Speech Caps Unforgettable Week

Alli Hall /
Republicans celebrate with balloons and confetti at the close of the convention 

By Alli Hall
Junior Reporter
TAMPA, Florida – The speech the world and I had been waiting for all week was Mitt Romney’s.
Romney, who this week officially became the Republican Party’s nominee for president, was serious at times, funny at other times, but all the time he was down to earth, and full of love for our country.
At the beginning of the electoral process I can honestly say I wasn’t so sure about Romney, and liked other candidates better, but after this week I know he will make a wonderful president.
He has so much love for his family and such a structured life. He knows how to deal with a tough situation and fix problems, and that’s exactly what we need for this country.
He will be a great president.
Romney’s speech Thursday night ended the 2012 Republican National Convention and a great week for this Minnesota girl.
I can’t believe this went by so fast.
Alli Hall in Tampa
As exciting as it was to hear Romney last night, I had a lot of fun before that.
After the convention on Wednesday night I went to an after-party, themed “Southern Hospitality.”
A few of the states that were there were Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and others. The party had lots of food – not really food I was interested in, but the adults really seemed to like it.
I'm not really a fan of fish, shrimp, and grits, but I still really enjoyed the party.
The best part of the party was when Mick Huckabee – a 2008 presidential candidate who is currently a television talk show host on Fox News – rocked out on his electric guitar for us.
It was great. He looks like a sophisticated politician, and he is, but he really rocked it out on his guitar! After his performance I got to meet him.
Attending the convention has been such a great opportunity.  I’ve met so many incredible people this week.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
and Alli Hall
Thursday morning began at a breakfast with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty as the speaker.
Before Pawlenty gave his speech, I talked to him for a little while, and got my picture taken with him. I think I’m going to have to make a scrapbook of all my pictures with the fascinating people at the convention.
Pawlenty was a great governor for Minnesota. His speech was flawless, just like his address at the convention. After breakfast, I went up to the podium and took some “action” photos.
With help from Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean, I learned exactly how the big-time politicians use arm motions in a speech. We had lots of fun with that.
Afterwards, my mom and I took a trip to North Beach where I got sunburned. 
It burns, but I guess that’s what you get when you forget your sunscreen. Other than that, I had a blast. I ran around, swam, ate some snacks, and played in the sand. What a great beach day!
Alli Hall /
The Republican National Convention leaves its mark in the sand
After the beach, we cleaned ourselves up, had some lunch, and went off to the convention. I was most looking forward to hearing speeches by former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and, of course, Romney.
Gingrich brought his wife Callista, and they made a great speech. My favorite part was that their speech was focused on former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
Although I wasn’t alive when Reagan was president, I know from stories that he was an amazing president – probably the best one yet – and that’s why my mom named my big brother Reagan.
Rubio made the next speech. Like Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who is the party’s nominee for vice president, I hadn’t heard a lot about Rubio, but when I heard his speech, I liked him in an instant.
He was so passionate and excited to introduce Romney.
Rubio has lots of energy and he is going to do great things in the future.
I am so blessed as a kid to be able to experience something so controversial, and something so great, as this convention.
I will remember this week of my life forever. I truly feel like the luckiest person to have such an opportunity, not just visiting the convention, but also getting the opportunity to write for Youth Journalism International.
YJI Reporter Alli Hall, 15, of Duluth, Minnesota, attended the Republican National Convention with her mom, who is an alternate from Minnesota. Read all of her previous dispatches and see all the photos at these links:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Republican Convention: A Kid's Point Of View

Alli Hall /
Arizona Sen. John McCain addresses the Republican National Convention

By Alli Hall
Junior Reporter
TAMPA, Florida – There was another morning breakfast Wednesday, but sadly I did not attend, because our bus did arrive at the hotel until 2 a.m. and I wasn't quite in the mood to get up at 7:30 a.m.
I’m a little bummed out because I missed the opportunity to meet Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. I did wake up later on, and went to a lunch where economist Peter Schiff was the keynote speaker.
I was lucky enough to be able to ask a question after his speech.
“For kids,” I asked, “what do we have to prepare for the future of our country?”
Schiff said that since the kids of this country are young we have a whole life ahead of us to make wise decisions to create a successful future for ourselves.
YJI's Alli Hall with economist Peter Schiff
He said that if this country doesn't get back on the right path, when today’s American kids grow up, they will leave this country to find a country that will help them succeed, not one that will punish them for their success.
It was a fabulous lunch. As a kid, I learned a lot.
Later I went back to the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the Republican National Convention to listen to speeches from governors, senators and members of Congress.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was the party’s presidential nominee four years ago, made a very nice speech in support of Mitt Romney, who will be on the ticket running for president this year.
I really like McCain – he is such a hero of our country. I actually met McCain when I was about 10, before he even announced he was running for president.
The night before I met him, my dad told me that McCain could be our president one day, and I really took that to heart. The next day when I met him, I shook his and said, “My dad says you’re going to be president someday!”
He bent down, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Well, you have a VERY smart dad.”
YJI reporter Alli Hall in Tampa
Ever since that day, McCain has been a great role model for me. Another speaker I enjoyed was former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a wonderful speech. She was so passionate, and full of confidence. I swear, after every sentence of her speech, the whole audience would stand and clap and cheer as loud as they possibly could. She did a great job.
To end the night, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, the party’s candidate for vice president, blew the crowd away with a very passionate speech.
I had never heard of Ryan before this year, and I don't think Romney could have chosen a better running mate.
Ryan is a down-to-earth man, and he knows what needs to be done in this country to get it back on the right path. He will be a great vice president.
I’m looking forward to hearing Romney's speech tonight!

YJI Reporter Alli Hall, 15, of Duluth, Minnesota, is attending the Republican National Convention with her mom, who is an alternate from Minnesota. Read all of her dispatches and see all the photos at these links:

Clean Up Is Part Of Ugandan Youth Festival

Bwette Daniel Gilbert /
Participants at the youth festival play a game at the Red Cross tent 
By Bwette Daniel Gilbert
Senior Reporter
KAMPALA, Uganda – With music, games, projects and other activities, young people here celebrated the second annual youth festival last weekend.
Organized by Open Space and various youth-led organizations in partnership with international groups that support youth activities in Uganda, the event focused on employment and kicked off by cleaning part of the slum of Kisenyi.
A team of youth led by “Kampala City Yange” members took charge of the cleaning effort in the slum in Mengo, part of the city of Kampala.
Bwette Daniel Gilbert /
Youth collecting the garbage at Kwagalana saving cooperative society compound
“The job of cleaning the city is tasked to Kampala City council authority, but they cannot do it alone,” said Isaac Rucci, director of Kampala City Yange, as he opened up the cleaning campaign at the youth festival.
Rucci, who called the cleaning effort a “great cause,” said the council needs support from responsible, local Ugandan citizen who want to see their city cleaned up.
Members of Kampala’s central parliament also attended, including Mohammed Nsereko and a Kampala youth member of parliament, Monica Amoding, as well as other dignitaries.

Bwette Daniel Gilbert /

A youth cleaning up the water trench in Kisenyi slum
Bwette Daniel Gilbert /

Hon. Mohammed Nsereko Kampala Central MP addressing the

youth & media at Kisenyi slum during the clean up of the city
Bwette Daniel Gilbert /

NBS TV documenting the drainage trench with stagnant water 
The festival proved a great platform for exhibitions, especially for organization that wanted to reach out to the youth in the areas of health, agriculture, entertainment and the environment, since it was open and free to all at Old Kampala playground.
Bwette Daniel Gilbert /

Mohamed Nsereko, Monica Amoding and a Kamapala City Yange representative are entertained by a cultural dancer
There was also a live debate on youth issues from various youth stakeholders on the theme of employment for young people in Uganda that included representatives from international development and health organizations.
Young people at the event expressed dissatisfaction on the proposed youth fund by the government of Uganda that has failed to cater to the needs of the youth who wish to start their businesses. They said banks ask them for collateral securities which youth don’t have and called on the national government to revise the policy so youth can more easily access funds for small business projects.
Later, festival crowds were entertained by talented youth who challenged the members of the parliament to join them on the dance floor.
Young people also showed skills in music, dance, drama, taekwondo, poetry, and more.
Bwette Daniel Gilbert /
MC Yala a female gospel hiphop emcee singing at the youth festival

Bwette Daniel Gilbert /

Young men from the International Youth Fellowship showcase 

Taekwondo skills at the festival 

Bwette Daniel Gilbert /

Young athletes display their football skills at the festival in preparations for the tournament

Bwette Daniel Gilbert /

Tugume Titus a Uganda People's defense forces (UPDF) kickboxer with a collegue showcasing the kickboxing techniques
Bwette Daniel Gilbert /
MC Twig, a female hiphop emcee, entertains the crowd at Old Kampala grounds

The festival also included crucial free counseling, testing for HIV and AIDS and guidance for youth on issues regarding sexual reproductive health by the Red Cross, Reproductive Health Uganda and the United Nations Population Fund.

Bwette Daniel Gilbert /

youth reproductive health game at the festival

Candidates, Cupcakes Sweeten Convention

Alli Hall /
Ann Romney addresses the Republican National Convention Tuesday night

By Alli Hall
Junior Reporter
TAMPA, Florida – Tuesday, my first full day at the Republican National Convention, was a crazy day for a teenager. I woke up at 7:30 a.m. to go to a breakfast at 8:30 a.m., and from there went to a pro-life rally at the aquarium in Tampa to the convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Although it was crazy, it was a really great experience.

YJI reporter Alli Hall
At our morning breakfast, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker spoke to us. 
From my perspective, Walker is a really cool guy. He has done so much for his state during his time as governor, so it was very exciting for me to meet someone I have so much respect for.
Next door, Herman Cain was the keynote speaker for another breakfast. I went over to check it out, and ended up meeting the former presidential candidate and getting a picture with him.
Cain thinks it’s great that young people are getting involved in politics at such a young age. After breakfast, I was invited to join a few people to attend a pro-life  rally at the aquarium in downtown Tampa.

Herman Cain and Alli Hall
Some of the speakers at the rally included Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Alli Hall at the aquarium in Tampa
Alli Hall /

Cupcakes at the pro-life rally
At the beginning of the rally, people just talked amongst each other and ate lunch. My lunch consisted of sweet potatoes topped with spoonfuls of brown sugar and approximately 20 marshmallows, and a gorgeous red velvet cupcake. 

Yum, what kid doesn't love marshmallows and cupcakes? What made the day even better is we got to explore the aquarium. I saw a crocodile (full grown this time), a little owl, otters, birds, and my most-feared creature EVER – sharks!
Although the animals were very exciting to see, I did do one thing a little more exciting: I met Rick Santorum! Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to speak with him, but meeting him made my day.

Rick Santorum and Alli Hall

After the rally, I went and saw the new movie, 2016: Obama’s America, by Dinesh D’Souza. It was a fabulous movie, and I encourage everyone to go and see it.
D’Souza came at the end of the movie to answer questions and sign books. I bought my mom a signed book, because she is a big fan of his work. After the movie, we finally made our way to the convention.
Security at the convention is very tight. There are police everywhere – on bikes, on horses, in golf carts and on foot – and the whole Tampa Bay Times Forum, and a few blocks surrounding it, is encircled with enormous fences. All the security is to protect guests, delegates speakers, and media from angry protesters outside.

Alli Hall /

Dinesh D’Souza answers questions after a screening of his film, 2016: Obama's America
Inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum is great. There are decorations everywhere, all very patriotic and the arena is huge.
I even got the chance to go to the floor of the convention. The floor is where the delegates from each state sit, and I got to watch some speeches from the floor for a little while during the convention. Once I returned to my designated seat – way up in the nose-bleed section – I settled down to listen to some great speeches.
Alli Hall /

On the floor of the Republican National Convention
My favorite speeches were by Santorum, Ann Romney, the wife of Mitt Romney, who will be the party's nominee for president, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. I think the reason those speeches stood out the most for me is because I’m a kid and listening to speeches about our economy and jobs doesn't really grab my interest, but those three spoke about more than that.
They spoke about love, our family’s future, and coming together for this convention because we want the most for our country. They believe that we have the ability to do great things. Their speeches inspired me and gave me hope for my country. Hope that has disappeared over the last four years is now slowly but surely coming back to the citizens of this country.
Those three speeches were the highlight of my night, and I’m looking forward to hearing speeches from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who is our party’s candidate for vice president.
An update on the proposed rule change: For the rules, they have decided to allow states to keep their caucuses. Although when delegates vote in the straw ballot at the beginning of the caucuses, they are bound to that candidate for the rest of the electoral process.
Many people think this is a bad idea because people don’t know much about the candidates at the beginning of the electoral process, when the caucuses take place. To make them seal their vote to that candidate so early doesn’t give them the chance to make a knowledgeable vote in the straw ballot.

YJI Reporter Alli Hall, 15, of Duluth, Minnesota, is attending the Republican National Convention with her mom, who is an alternate from Minnesota. Read all of her dispatches and see all the photos at these links:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Issac Whips Past Southwest Florida

Carley Mambuca /
As hurricane Isaac veered away from Naples, Florida, the town only suffered from the hurricane's outskirts. The increased wind speed led to restless waters at Vanderbilt Beach on Monday in a place where the serenity of the ocean is a legacy. However, the adolescents of Naples did not see this as a setback at all as they enjoyed the enhanced recreational opportunity to surf and skim. 
Carley Mambuca /
Throughout Southwest Florida, the streets were lined with palm trees whose relentless palms were victims of the strong winds. The local Walgreens drug store had many emergency orders of batteries and water as it warned the Southwest Floridians of the importance of preparedness in the ongoing storm. 

Carley Mambuca /
Despite the usual stale air that surrounds Naples, Isaac brought upon some increased wind speeds. Everything that was not shielded outdoors was subjected to relentless wind speeds and flags were no exception. Each and every one was flapping almost to the point of breakage.

The Grand Old Party Is Underway In Florida

YJI reporter Alli Hall center, is flanked by belly dancers at the Republican National Convention's opening party.

By Alli Hall
Junior Reporter
TAMPA, Florida – RNC: to all those teenagers and young adults who don’t know what the Republican National Convention is, I hope by the end of the week you will.
Now underway in Tampa, Florida, the main objectives of the Republican National Convention are to adopt a platform for the presidential race reflecting the party’s goals and wishes for the next four years and nominating our candidates for president and vice president of the United States. This year, it’s expected that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be the party’s pick for president with Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice-president running mate.
Although that’s the main business of the convention, it does involve much more.
There are many speeches made by senators, governors, and other important political figures. Some speeches, such as those by Romney, Ryan and Romney’s wife Ann Romney are anticipated by those all around the nation, and even the world.
All conventions have something unique in the building. Here at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, there is a national debt clock, which is constantly ticking as our debt piles up. There is also a debt clock that counts how much debt we will gain throughout the week of the convention.
Alli Hall /

Food for the party opening the convention included roast pig.
Republicans held the opening party for the convention on Sunday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The stadium, home to the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, was overflowing with energetic and passionate delegates and guests from all around the country.
Alli Hall /

Flamingos charmed delegates and others

at the opening night party
My favorite part was walking into the stadium and seeing all the dancers, flamingos, and a little, itty-bitty baby crocodile! I love animals, so seeing all the animals made it so much fun for me.

At the party, it wasn’t really about politics; it was more about meeting new people with very similar interests, and celebrating our country.

Alli Hall /

A small crocodile at the party
Alli Hall /

The stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays held the

opening night party.
To end the party, Rodney Atkins, an extremely popular American country singer, performed on a stage in the stadium. His music boomed in the stadium and brought everyone together to, once again, celebrate our amazing country.
Unfortunately, all convention events at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Monday were canceled due to tropical storm Isaac, which is turning into a hurricane. The weather isn’t too bad here in Tampa – there’s just off and on rain and lots of wind.
Alli Hall /

Congresswoman Michele Bachman

attended a breakfast for 
delegates from Minnesota, her 

home state.
Even though the convention was cancelled for the day, I still attended a breakfast for the Minnesota delegates – my mom is an alternate – and their guests. We had two guest speakers, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann from Minnesota and Professor Walter E. Block, who teaches at Loyola University in New Orleans. It was very interesting to hear them speak from different points of view.
We were also introduced to some possible rule changes for the presidential election process in the future. One potential change that really got people fired up was changing all state caucuses into primaries. This upset many delegates, because they believe that caucusing gives average citizens a voice in the presidential electoral process.
Delegates don’t want this to be taken away from them. Other than our breakfast, Monday was a very laid back day. I’m looking forward to the excitement of Tuesday.

Alli Hall /
A colorful big bird at the opening night party

YJI Reporter Alli Hall, 15, of Duluth, Minnesota, is attending the Republican National Convention with her mom, who is an alternate from Minnesota. Read all of her dispatches and see all the photos at these links: