Former ambassador encourages future leaders
JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — James Pardew, a former United States ambassador to Bulgaria, returned to his alma mater Feb. 6 at Nettleton High School to encourage students to become involved citizens.
When Pardew was a student at Nettleton, he graduated with about 35 students, all of them white. When he spoke with the students on Tuesday, he spoke to a diverse group of almost the same number from two history classes.
“I am so pleased to see diversity here,” Pardew said. “Diversity makes us stronger. Diversity makes us better.”
The Jonesboro Sun reports that Pardew’s main piece of advice to the students was to pay attention to current events, especially international news, so they can understand and help other people.
“America is pretty isolated to the rest of the world,” Pardew said. “Local and entertainment news are in abundance, but you should also pay attention to what is happening all across the world. ... (The world) is diverse, with many races and religions, and we need to look at that and pay attention to them because we are a leader on that stage. What we do affects them, and we need to be considerate of that.”
Pardew cited specific examples in his career and, when asked by a student, compared it to the current administration’s foreign policy, calling Donald Trump’s approach “bullying” and decrying the state of relationships with traditional allies.
“We have a president who is not welcome in London,” Pardew said. “That is unthinkable.”
Solomon Ni, a sophomore at NHS, said he wants to be a doctor, but he also has some interest in politics. He said Pardew’s message was especially beneficial as he looks toward the future.
“I think the most important thing he said was to be informed about what is going on on the world stage and in the U.S.,” Ni said. “You have to be informed before you can begin to help.”
Pardew encouraged students like Ni who had an interest in public service to take that first step, because he said the government needed some younger voices to contribute.
“I had no idea what direction my life would take when I was your age, and neither do you,” Pardew said. “There are so many options out there with the government. If you are interested in a career with the government, study something they are interested in while you are at college, and they could recruit you.”
Pardew is a veteran of the Army during the Vietnam War, and while he did not tell students to join the military, he did say his time in the military helped him throughout his life.
Ben Oliver, a sophomore at Nettleton and a staff sergeant in the Civil Air Control of Jonesboro, is considering joining the Navy or the Air Force after college. He said Pardew’s experience was particularly inspiring to him.
“I think having someone with as much knowledge and experience as him coming to speak to us young people is really good for the community and the next generation of leaders,” Oliver said. “He came from very little when Jonesboro was not much more than a farm community, and he went on to be a major player in foreign affairs. Hearing from someone with roots here in Jonesboro who played on the world stage was very encouraging.”
Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com