Beatrice Daily Sun (Beatrice, NE)
Posted on July 31, 2004
By Mike Goodwin
As the bright afternoon sun shone down on a blue garbage can, Rustam Garifullin knew he probably wouldn't get many more chances. So when he finally threw the lasso around the can after several tries Friday, it wasn't necessary to speak Russian to know he was happy.
Garifullin, as well as six other Russian educators and youth workers at the Gage County Fair and Expo, weren't there to learn to rope, ride horses or even necessarily to sample American fair food. The group was at the fair to get a firsthand look at American programs of youth education and community service.
The group came to Nebraska through the Open World Leadership Center, a federal program established for young Russian leaders to experience American democracy and free enterprise. The visit was coordinated by the Lincoln chapter of the Friendship Force, an organization that facilitates international outreach programs. The Russians arrived on Monday to spend the week in Nebraska with host families.
The goal is to take back new ideas on how various agencies cooperate to foster civic involvement in youths and adults. Russia is a vast, varied and changing country, they said, and one in which the citizens are struggling to define the role of government and non-governmental organizations as it relates to youth projects and civic engagement.
The Russians spent a great deal of time studying the interaction of youths and adults, an ethic Garifullin said was not as well developed in Russia as it was in the United States. They spoke of their experiences through a translator Friday afternoon as they toured the fairgrounds.
Older Russians must realize they play an important role in the lives of youths and the time adults donate in a program like 4-H should be looked at as an investment, according to Garifullin, a department head with the Ministry of Youth Affairs in the western province of Tatarstan.
A program like 4-H is interesting to the group's members because of the way it facilitates interaction between adults and youths and how it promotes education and learning in young people.
After visiting the 4-H horse show, the group heard from Gage County Cooperative Extension Educator Paul Hay, who spoke about the benefits of the 4-H program.
"It's a series of little successes that give them bigger successes," he told the group. "It's as simple as doing chores. It's as simple as having the courage to lead a calf into the ring for the first time and not know where it is going."
Irina Abushayeva, a music teacher from the Siberian city of Tomsk, said it was beneficial to experience 4-H firsthand Friday.
[Reprinted with Permission]