The Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, OH)
Posted on October 16, 2003
By Crystal Harden
A delegation of Russian educators will tap the knowledge of local school officials, professors and students during an eight-day stay starting Friday.
The visit is part of a National Library of Congress program called Open World, through which Russian political and civic leaders learn about American society from their U.S. counterparts.
Ten Russian educators who plan to visit Greater Cincinnati will eat lunch with students, ride a school bus and talk to school administrators, principals, professors and teachers. Among their Cincinnati stops will be Taft Information Technology High School, Xavier University and the Cincinnati Museum Center in Union Terminal.
Members of the Friendship Force International of Greater Cincinnati will serve as hosts and guides for the delegation.
"This is a group of educators that are interested in how our government supports education, how we get our money for education, and how we solve certain problems for education," said Debbie Walter, who helped to organize the visit.
About 7,000 Russian visitors from 89 regions of the Russian federation and representing 55 ethnic groups have visited the United States since the Open World program started in 1999. Topics of interest include economic development, education reform, federalism, health care, the judicial system, women as leaders and youth issues.
The delegation arrived in the United States Wednesday for an orientation in Washington, D.C., and then went to Atlanta. In Cincinnati, they will stay with host families to learn about daily life in American homes, as well.
Walter and her husband, who live in Independence, Ky., have been members of the Friendship Force for about six years. Through the group they have visited Australia, New Zealand and Eastern Europe. Next year the group may bring in delegations from New Zealand and China, Walter said.
The Friendship Force nurtures relationships to foster a better understanding between citizens of different countries because, "A world of friends is a world of peace," Walter said.
"You go to these peoples' homes as strangers, and you hug each other and have tears in your eyes when you leave," she said.
The Friendship Force will have a potluck Thanksgiving dinner at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Clifton United Methodist Church, 3416 Clifton Ave., in Cincinnati for people interested in joining.
[Reprinted with Permission]