Los Alamos Monitor (Los Alamos, NM)
Posted on October 7, 2004
By Carol A. Clark
Eight Russian delegates arrived in Los Alamos Sunday night for a weeklong study of ecological and environmental issues with local experts.
This is the first trip to America for the delegates, comprised of government officials, environmental leaders, academics and environmental activists who are visiting as part of the Los Alamos/Sarov Sister City Initiative coordinated by Lawry Mann, chair; Fran Berting, treasurer, and member Dr. Robert Thomsen and others.
Marina Pershina, 27, is an ecological engineer in Sarov.
"Los Alamos has an absolutely wonderful landscape - it's a very friendly, quiet and cozy town," Pershina said.
Dr. Ann Wadstrom is a four-time host of Russian delegates visiting Los Alamos.
"We enjoy having them stay with us," Wadstrom said. "They share so much of their culture with us and are like us in so many of our feelings and values. One night two doctors stayed with us from a visiting medical group. We were sitting around the table and they began to sing Russian songs to us and one began to play songs on the piano; it was so much fun."
Thomsen also has been very active in the Russian medical exchange program, Mann said. He is participating heavily with the current visitors also.
"I'm involved because I think it's important to create a bridge between our communities," Thomsen said.
Russian environmentalists face tremendous challenges because their country's vast territory contains valuable natural resources but suffers from degradation and exploitation.
Despite economic difficulties, Russia has a growing nongovernmental sector working to preserve the country's forests, water supplies, and endangered species.
"One of my every day activities is to work so there will be no fires," said Andrey Zinenko, 38, director of city forestry. "My first impression in Los Alamos is that the trees are exactly like the trees in my home in Siberia."
Nina Hecker has been going to Russia for nine years and actually got the medical exchange program going in Los Alamos after visiting a newborn wing at a Russian hospital.
"I told Sig that we had to do something to help the newborns," Nina said. "When we returned to Los Alamos, I spoke with doctors here and the program began to evolve."
The Heckers have grown close to the Russian people of Sarov, Nina said. She said it was actually a friend from Russia that told them their home had survived the 2000 fire.
"We were staying with friends in Santa Fe when we found out from a friend in Sarov that our home was OK," Nina said. "He e-mailed Sig that our house was okay because the phone was still ringing."
The Los Alamos/Sarov Sister City Initiative works in conjunction with the State Department's Open World Program, initiated in 1999 by the Library of Congress and authorized by the U.S. Congress to increase understanding between the United States and Russia and to support Russia's efforts to strengthen its democratic reforms.
Hosts include Hecker and Nina, Alice Mann, Paul White, Jody Howell, Wadstrom, Thomsen, and Ron Augustson.
Translators for the week include Olga Augustson and Valida Dushdurova who both work at UNM-LA.
The Open World Russian facilitators include Natalia Shaydorova from Novgorod and Yaroslav Pisarev from Chelyabinsk.
The group toured Bandelier Monday and met with Open Space Specialist Craig Martin. Martin spoke about the Cerro Grande Fire, recovery efforts, open space programs, and community and youth involvement.
On Tuesday, they listened to Lorrie Bonds-Lopez, division office chief of staff at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Bonds-Lopez spoke at Fuller Lodge about risk reduction and environmental stewardship, LANL work on environment cleanup and issues of legacy waste.
John Bartlit of New Mexico Citizens for Clean Air and Water lead a discussion on citizens' roles in cleanup and the importance of advisory groups.
The delegates went to the Bradbury Science Museum for a tour and talk on Russian scientific interchanges by Hecker.
Berting spoke today about the Northern New Mexico Citizen's Advisory Board at Fuller Lodge and Barbara Gonzales spoke about Indian Pueblos. The group also toured the landfill and heard a recycle talk by Regina Wheeler. Thursday they will hear a talk on solid and liquid waste programs at Fuller Lodge by Deputy Utilities Manager Tim Glasco, and an alternative energy talk by Buck Monday, utilities manager. Friday begins with an Open World program planning session at Fuller Lodge by World Services of La Crosse Inc., followed by a talk from Rep. Jeannette Wallace on the legislature on environmental concerns and state energy conservation.
Reprinted with permission.
[Reprinted with Permission]