Priamurskiye Vedomocti (Khabarovsk, Russia)
Posted on October 25, 2003
By Staff Writer
“We can talk about economics and politics as much as we want, but if there isn’t a blue sky above us and we breathe dirty air, then there is no sense in such conversations.” Those were the words with which Pamela Spratlend, U.S. Consul General in the Far East, opened the ecological conference in Khabarovsk.
For the next three days the regional capital will become a place of heated discussions and exchange of experience between participants in the Russian-American Open World program.
“Khabarovsk is not an arbitrary choice for the meeting of Open World alumni,” stated Vera De Buchananne, manager of the Open World Center and the program’s alumni coordinator, who arrived in Khabarovsk from Washington. “Eighty nine Russian citizens from the Khabarovsk region have participated in our program since 1999. From neighboring Amurskaya and Primorskye regions, 63 and 154 people, respectively, have visited the U.S. These are lawyers, representatives of the media and business, and government officials.”
Open World is the only exchange program created within the legislative branch of the United States government in the history of the U.S. The U.S. Congress organized the program in 1999. The program encompasses a wide range of topics, from economic development and educational reforms to ecology and the role of women in contemporary society.
On the evening of October 23, Khabarovsk environmental advocates and guests from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Blagoveschensk, Kemerovo, Irkutsk and Novokuznetsk gathered in the Far Eastern State Library of Science.
In its few years of existence in Russia, the program has found tremendous response among residents of our country. Eight thousand Russian citizens have already visited various U.S. cities and learned a great deal.
“It is essential for us to finally understand that we must care for our environment ourselves. Responsibility for the planet turning from blue gray lies with people,” explained the chairman of the Amur youth organization, Irina Fokina.
“In our city there are no ecological organizations at all,” claimed Galina Tkachenko, the director of Young Leader, a club from the city of Svobodny. “We were pleasantly surprised when we saw how active our youth is. Almost everyone responded to the call for fall cleanup in the city. The government only promises to help. Yet with each year atmospheric pollution and the frequency of oncological disease increase among Svobodny residents.”
Conference participants gave eight reports on ecological topics. The theme that united all members of the conference was the need to engage the upcoming generation in environmental stewardship and protection.
The PBN Company
[Reprinted with Permission]