Tooele Transcript Bulletin (Tooele, UT)
Posted on September 26, 2002
By Michael Rigert
A group of five Russian leaders arrived Wednesday evening in Tooele and will spend the next seven days studying environmental, economic and cultural issues as part of a Open World Program sponsored by the U.S. Congress. The exchange is also in conjunction with Tooele's Sister City program and its Russian counterparts in the city of Kambarka within the Republic of Udmurtia.
In May, Tooele City Mayor Charlie Roberts journeyed to Russia to formalize Tooele's ties to Kambarka, tour local institutions and historical sites, and act as Tooele's ambassador.
Similarly, the delegation's visit will include a wide variety of activities and experiences including everything from participating in local Homecoming activities to visiting federal, state and local government sites. The guests will be familiarized with local issues of business, government, environment, history and culture.
"We're excited to have them and host them. They received a warm welcome yesterday. It's a perfect time to have them with all the community events that are going on. We hope it will be the first of many more (exchanges) to come," Roberts said.
One objective the new relationship is for Tooele to help Kambarka come up with ideas and strategies to safely and effectively dispose of one of the largest chemical weapons stockpiles in the former Soviet Union.
Managed by the Center for Russian Leadership Development, an independent agency located at the Library of Congress, the Open World Program brings young Russian leaders to the United States for in-depth exposure to American democratic and economic institutions. Open World is the only exchange program housed in the U.S. legislative branch.
The five-person Open World delegation visiting Tooele includes two participants from Udmurtia. One is a senior specialist with the Foreign Economic Department of the republic's Ministry of International Relations, the other is an educator. Another participant heads the Samara Environmental Foundation (Samara is a region in southern European Russia).
The Center has awarded a grant to the Academy for Educational Development (AED) to administer this and similar exchanges in 2002. AED is an independent nonprofit organization with expertise in education, social marketing, research, training, policy analysis, and innovative program design and management. AED's local partner, International Hosting of West Jordan, Utah, has organized the leaders' program, meals, local transportation, accommodations in private homes, and cultural activities.
Highlights of the Open World delegation's Tooele-area schedule include meeting with Tooele Mayor Charlie Roberts; visiting the Community Outreach Office of the Deseret Chemical Depot, the Tooele County Emergency Operations Center, and the Tooele County Courthouse; meeting with representatives of the Sierra Club, Families Against Incinerator Risk, and the Tooele Chamber of Commerce; visiting the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin offices and printing plant and viewing its recycling processes; and touring the Kennecot Copper Mine and the Trans-Jordan Landfill. The delegation will also take part in the Tooele High School Homecoming Parade, attend the Festival of the Old West and tour local museums.
The delegation will travel to Orem to attend Utah-Russia Days events and to Salt Lake City to meet with a special assistant to Governor Michael O. Leavitt, tour the State Capitol, and sightsee. While in Utah, the group will attend meetings of the Tooele and West Jordan Rotary Clubs. Rotary clubs have helped host Open World delegations since the program began in 1999.
Open World aims to foster understanding between the United States and the Russian Federation and to assist Russia's democratic and economic reforms. Up to 2,500 Russian leaders will be invited to participate in Open World this year. More than 5,000 Open World visitors from all 89 Russian regions have been hosted in 50 states since the program began. Participants are drawn from a wide range of political parties and ethnic groups, and more than a third are women - a high percentage compared to typical Soviet-era exchanges. There was a similar program with West Germany under the Marshall Plan after World War II, which helped that country's transition to democracy.
Before traveling to Utah, the Russian delegation visited Washington, D.C., for briefings at the Library of Congress. The nonprofit American Councils for International Education (ACTR/ACCELS) is handling the logistics of the Russians' trip. For more on the Center for Russian Leadership Development and Open World, visithttp://lcweb4.loc.gov:8081/harmony/rlp.
Copyright ©2002, Tooele Transcript Bulletin. Used with permission.
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