Russians Visit, Take Knowledge and Culture Home
The Daily Courier (Prescott, AZ)
Posted on September 8, 1999
By Salina Sialega
The Library of Congress paid for the 10-day tour, known as the Russian Leadership Program. The educational program sends 2,000 men and women from various parts of Russia and from numerous occupations into towns across the United States. The purpose of the trip is to teach the visitors about democratic capitalism and American culture while touring places such as Sharlot Hall Museum, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the Prescott Newspapers Inc. printing facility in Prescott Valley, Prescott City Hall, and other stops.
The trip ends Friday with a tour of the State Capitol in Phoenix and a visit with Gov. Jane Hull. In Prescott, the visitors are staying with host families from the Prescott United Methodist Church. Glen and Iyone Meyer, for example, hosted Vladamir Kozmenko during this visit. In the past, the couple has hosted several foreign exchange high school students in their home and enjoys the international exchange of ideas.
"We've always been interested in foreign exchange," Iyone said. "It takes one-on-one contact to have understanding between the nations."
On Friday, the group started with a tour of Prescott City Hall and Mayor Paul Daly gave a presentation on how citizens vote for candidates and propositions, and taught them about city government structure compared to that of the county, state and federal government.
"Here's one proposition that I'm particularly interested in," Daly said, joking with the group as he pointed to the mayor's salary increase proposition. The visitors' questions regarding council functions, how the government collects and spends taxes, and others, impressed Daly. "I wish we could've spent all morning here," Daly said after the hour-long group discussion in the City Council chambers. "They were really getting to the heart of America," he said. "They were where we should be in terms of our democracy." The group also toured the Prescott Police Department and a local fire station.
On Saturday, the visitors toured the Grand Canyon, and by Sunday afternoon, they actually got to watch real cowboys in action. They attended their first rodeo at Chino Valley's First Territorial Capital Days on Sunday to observe bull and bronc riding, calf roping and barrel racing, among other events. Reactions ranged from "exciting," to "talented" to "cruel." One young woman thought it cruel to throw down and tie up the calves.
On the other hand, the sport as an American heritage interested Valeriy Gdigitovka. "It's very good that America could make their own lifestyle in a short period of time," Gdigitovka said through a translator. Gdigitovka lives in the Southern region of Russia and said horsemen there have similar riding skills. Yanzhima Vasiljeva, the chairperson of the Republican Non-governmental Ecological Fun "Baikal," said the horsemanship exhibitions reminded her of bow and arrow tournaments in the Republic of Buryatia where she lives. "It's important to create the culture," Vasiljeva said through a translator. Horsemanship in her region dates back to Genghis Khan, a Mongol conqueror from the late 12th century.
[Reprint permission granted by Prescott Newspapers Online..]
[Reprinted with Permission]