Eighth Grader Gets Taste of High-Powered U.S.-Arab Summit

Aubrey Peterson, an East Hampton Middle School eighth grader, outside the Union League Club in Manhattan on Monday morning Susan Peterson

Aubrey Peterson, an East Hampton Middle School eighth grader, was in the room on Monday with such important figures as Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador James Woolsey, both former C.I.A. directors, and business and political leaders from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other Arab nations as he live-tweeted his perspectives from the C3 U.S.-Arab Business and Healthcare Summit in New York City.

The summit, whose founder and managing partner, Ransel Potter, lives in Sag Harbor, is a forum for "exchanging best practices and knowledge transfer between the United States and the Arab region in healthcare, business, and corporate social responsibility," according to its web site. It is taking place at the Union League Club on Monday and Tuesday.

"I have been working with the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and numerous government ministries in the Arab region for more than five years developing the C3 Summit, which I started with President Clinton's help," Mr. Potter said in an email earlier this month. He lives on the South Fork full time.

Young Aubrey is at the summit not for a school project, but because his keen interest in history and current events earned him a personal invitation from Mr. Potter. Aubrey and his mother, Susan Peterson, met Mr. Potter at a coffee shop last year. When Aubrey learned about his involvement in the summit, he was filled with questions. Mr. Potter was so impressed by his interest in and knowledge of the Arab region that he offered him an internship, not realizing he was just 12 at the time, his mother said, and too young for one.

Nevertheless, Mr. Potter asked him to be his guest at the summit in New York this week and to share his experiences on Twitter, where his handle is @AubreypetersonH. Normally, Ms. Peterson said, her son does not use social media, so last night the family did a crash course on the ins and outs of Twitter. "He's learning on the job," she said.

Among the speakers over the two-day summit are former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, General Petraeus, a host of current and former ambassadors to countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain. Monday's panel discussions included such subjects as "Changes and Challenges Raised by Globalization," "The Achilles Heel of National Security: Water, Electricity, and the Global Threat of Mutant Viruses," "The Importance of Cross Border Protection," "Global Impact of New Media on Societal Change," and "Economic, Social, and Urban Growth Drivers Changing the Face of the Arab Region."