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Attendees praise Pittsburgh as summit host city

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By Kimberly Smith, Audrey Prisk and Holly Tonini
Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

When Pittsburgh put in a bid to host this week's One Young World summit, it did so with a sense of determination, said Kate Robertson, co-founder of the summit.

“They didn't say, ‘We intend to bid, here's the document, tell us what you think.' What they said was, ‘How do we win this?', ‘What are the obstacles?', and ‘What have we got to do?'”

Brazilian delegate Pedro Saldanha, 26, said he received a very positive first impression.

“It's a very clean city, and the people are very friendly, and I feel very safe here, which is important,” he said. “It looks, a little, like my home city in Brazil with the river as well.”

Though One Young World remains Saldanha's main focus of his visit, he also is intrigued by the cultural venues and opportunities.

“There are so many places Downtown associated with culture – musical arts and museums; and that's nice,” he said.

Delegate speaker Barkha Mossae, 23, of Mauritius also noticed the cleanliness of Pittsburgh.

“It looks like a typical U.S. city with all of the skyscrapers, lights and tall buildings,” Mossae said. “It's clean, and pretty. I'm looking forward to being here and seeing what it's like.”

Mossae found the young population an important feature, because of a negative experience at the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

“It was so disheartening because the older delegates didn't want to change things, and it's our time as young adults to do it,” Mossae said.

Pilar De Arriba Alonso, 25, of Madrid, Spain, praised Pittsburgh for presenting such a dramatic backdrop to the conference.

“It's a great city,” she said. “It is super green.”

A consultant, she works with an orphanage in Kenya and is launching a startup program in a week that provides prescription glasses to those who can't afford them through a buy-one-get-one program.

Katlego Maboe, a South African (@KatlegoMaboe) who describes himself on Twitter as an artist, an accountant and a dreamer, tweeted his thoughts on Pittsburgh:

• My first view of Pittsburgh ! WOW!

• The fall trees in Pittsburgh remind me of a birthday card I once got. Always wanted 2go2 where trees looked like this.#50ShadesOfPittsburgh

@OYWPittsburgh I love how the city has embraced@OneYoungWorld ! Makes us all feel really welcome! Thank you Steeler City

Even some of the event's security guards said they have felt comfortable and welcome to Pittsburgh.

“Last year, the Zurich police wanted nothing to do with us, and it's a completely different situation here this year, and it's much nicer,” said Brian Adcock, a member of the security team.

Pittsburgh beat out nine cities to host One Young World. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said it was a collaborative effort of the city and foundations to make the summit accessible and successful.

“We did everything we could to really roll out the red carpet from the ‘Visit Pittsburgh' perspective, and apparently it worked,” he said.

Kimberly Smith, Audrey Prisk and Holly Tonini write for the Point Park University News Service.

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