MLive.com (Ann Arbor, MI)
Posted on March 20, 2008
By LIZ COBBS, The Ann Arbor News
Children and teenagers in Russia and America face similar challenges and social workers, educators and leaders of nonprofit agencies working with youth have to find answers.
A 10-member delegation from Russia met with social workers from Eastern Michigan University and Willow Run Community Schools Tuesday for a dialogue on issues young people face in each country.
The group, made up of directors and managers of social service and government agencies working with youth, is visiting the country for 10 days under the Open World Program, a nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress.
The Congressional exchange program brings in leaders from Russia and other Eurasian countries to work with their counterparts in America and learn how the U.S. private and nonprofit sectors help meet social and civic needs.
EMU's School of Social Work is hosting the delegation this week, said Mark Ragg, associate professor in EMU's School of Social Work.
Sharing how the local social work system works has been beneficial, said Trubina Galina Anatolevna, manager of a regional rehabilitation center for children and teens with disabilities in Volgograd, located in the southern part of Russia.
"We see the differences here," Anatolevna said through interpreter Olga Safronova, a facilitator with the Open World Program. "Social work and education is combined (in the local schools) and in our system, they are separate. This has been informative and educational."
Olga Vitalievna, who heads a nonprofit youth organization in the Udmurtskaya Republic, in the eastern part of Russia, said she learned a lot from a session at EMU on fundraising efforts of local social service nonprofits.
"I think we will use some of those ideas," Vitalievna said through Safronova.
Alexey Ju Zavraghin said in addition to social work, he's also learning about "everyday urban life" in America.
"My opinion of the United States has changed dramatically," he said through the interpreter. "My opinion of America has been good, but Americans have exceeded my expectations."
Liz Cobbs can be reached at email@example.com or 734-994-6810.
[Reprinted with Permission]