Dodge City Daily Globe (Dodge City, KS)
Posted on October 4, 2003
By Rebecca Aistrup Gerber
History books not only teach us about the ways of another country, but they also offer insight into a country's culture.
But the best way people can learn about another culture can is by seeing and experiencing it themselves. And five women from the central region of Russia will be doing just that next week.
The five, all of whom work in a library system in Russia, will spend a week in Dodge City learning about the area's history, its importance and the library system.
Managed by the independent Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress, the program enables the five participants to learn about the roles and interrelationships of the three different branches and levels of the United States government. They also learn how the U.S. private and nonprofit sectors help meet social and civic needs.
James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress and a noted Russia expert, provided the vision for the program, which began in 1999.
The program has built mutual understanding between the Untied States and Russia by opening and maintaining new avenues of dialogue between U.S. political and civic leaders and a new generation of Russian leaders.
Since 1999 Open World has hosted about 7,000 Russian visitors. They come from all of the Russian Federation's 89 regions and represent 55 ethnic groups. About 40 percent of those delegates have been women. As a delegate the groups are asked to focus on one of eight themes including: economic development, education reform, environment, federalism, health, the rule of law, women as leaders and youth issues.
The group of five traveling to Dodge City Sunday will be focusing on women as leaders. While they are here, they will be learning about libraries in the area including the Dodge City Public Library, the Learning Resource Center at Dodge City Community College and the USD 443 school libraries. They will also be sitting in on commission meetings, touring Excel Corp., attending a club meeting and touring sites around the area, as well as spending time with their host families.
Mary Tuytschaevers, director of the Dodge City Public Library, found out about the program through a library Web site.
"I though this would be a great program to get involved in because we didn't have a lot of activities going on in the fall," Tuytschaevers said.
While the group is here, its members will be learning about the Western world, western Kansas, women as leaders and libraries.
"I'm hoping the group gets an understanding of southwest Kansas, its history and importance," Tuytschaevers said.
[Reprinted with Permission]