ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – Bright, energetic college students eager to make the world a better place are getting lessons this weekend from some high powered and successful people all gathered at Washington University.
The annual Clinton Global Initiative University, founded by former President Bill Clinton, brings one thousand students together to talk about their ideas to solve problems either at home or overseas.
The former president and his daughter Chelsea will spend all weekend in St. Louis speaking to the students and moderating panel discussions. Chelsea Clinton told them young people can make a difference.
"We don't have time to be discouraged," she said.
Friday night, St. Louis native Jack Dorsey, who founded Twitter and Square, joined Clinton and several other highly successful people who encouraged the students to believe in themselves and to be impatient about accomplishing their dreams.
President Clinton spoke about the value of non-governmental organizations where ideas can be tested without pressure from stockholders or voters. He and others urged the students to learn from their failures.
"We need to create a culture where failure is okay as long as it is not a product of laziness," Clinton said.
Students competed to participate in the conference by submitting ideas to solve problems. The proposals had to be creative solutions that could be replicated in other settings.
Many of the projects will receive seed money from participating universities or foundations.
During an afternoon roundtable with members of the media, Dorsey spoke about his formative years growing up in St. Louis City. He grew up experimenting on a computer and found his way onto the early versions of the internet via computer bulletin boards provided by Washington University. He said he created Twitter in two weeks in 2001, but it was not the right time so he "shelved" the idea until 2006.
Dorsey praised St. Louis as a potential powerhouse for biomedical and bio-technology development.
"We have the universities, we have the discipline, we have the focus to do so, but we have to invest in it," he said. "Let's stop the conversation about we're too conservative it's the Midwest and therefore we can't move."
Dorsey and a friend, who is a St. Louis glass artist, also created Square, a device that attaches to a cell phone and accepts a credit card payment.
Twitter began with simple messages between Dorsey and his mother. Now it can be used to send a news story or photo around the world or spread information about a revolution rapidly. Dorsey predicted Square will have an equally powerful impact on the way we conduct commerce.
Saturday's sessions at the Clinton Global Initiative will include a major panel discussion on women in third world nations and the challenges they face acquiring education and health care and a variety of workshops to help the students learn how to implement their plans.
Saturday afternoon Stephen Colbert from the Comedy Channel will interview President Clinton for a future show.
Sunday many students will participate in a volunteer cleanup project at Gateway High School in St. Louis City.
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Students Attending Bill Clinton’s Conference At Wash. U.