December 20, 2013, Vol. 5, Issue 6
PITTSBURGH, PA – Pittsburgh ranks among Open World’s most-visited U.S. host cities, and one of the reasons is Gail Shrott, who has hosted for Open World since its inception in 1999. Shrott serves as the director of the International Leaders Program for GlobalPittsburgh, a member of the National Council for International Visitors. She was most recently recognized for her international work by the Women & Girls Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania, which included her among a select group of women honored for having a global impact in the region.
Shrott came to international exchanges via the museum world. Her previous experience writing exhibit labels, preparing catalogue entries, and leading tours of exhibitions gave her plenty of practice in expressing concepts clearly and concisely, a skill that she uses both when explaining American culture to Open World delegates and when addressing a topic specific to a delegation’s theme.
Volunteer management is another skill that Shrott carried over from her museum days. She says that GlobalPittsburgh has succeeded in attracting committed volunteers “because our staff loves what we do, we spend a lot of time training our volunteers, and we frequently thank them for the work that they do for our organization.” To keep volunteers engaged, she and her colleagues assign them projects that use their individual talents, and also make sure to include them in GlobalPittsburgh events. Shrott is now developing training materials to help international visitors councils across the United States recruit more volunteers of all ages.
Reflecting on her association with Open World, Shrott says “I do have the unique perspective of having worked with the Open World program from its beginning. I am very impressed with the development of the program and the high quality of the participants recruited for it.” And she says that Open World exchanges have benefited her region on several different levels. “Professionals in the Pittsburgh region have met professionals from other cultures with whom they have developed ongoing linkages; hosts have maintained friendships with Open World participants; and members of our community have expanded their understanding of other cultures through their informal interactions with Open World participants.”
Of the 30-plus exchanges Shrott has hosted, she says that the most personally meaningful was a program for disability advocates from Kazakhstan. “The participants probably had very few opportunities to travel to meet with disability advocates in other countries, and they seemed eager to adapt many of the ideas that they learned to helping other people back home,” she recalls. “It was evident that our program had a strong impact on them, and that was rewarding.”
WASHINGTON, DC – Open World celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Ukraine program by recognizing the 2,000th Ukrainian participant, Volodymyr Filippov, who arrived in Washington, DC, Nov. 6. The 28-year-old Filippov teaches management and public administration at Odessa National Polytechnic University’s Institute of Business, Economics, and Computer Science, and researches how IT is used in management. He is also deputy head of the Young Scientists Council at the university.
Filippov took part in an exchange on innovation in higher education that was hosted in Baltimore, MD, by the World Trade Center Institute. Odessa and Baltimore are sister cities.
WASHINGTON, DC – On Nov. 15, Open World celebrated the arrival of its 20,000th participant, Olga Shchetinina of Chelyabinsk, Russia. Shchetinina is the founding director of the private AntOlchik Children’s Development Center. The center is highly regarded in the Chelyabinsk region for its quality educational programs and for its involvement in fundraising and awareness events.
On hand to honor Shchetinina and participate in the orientation program for her travel group was Open World Trustee and former Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson. Secretary Nicholson addressed all the delegates and then conducted a breakout session with journalists heading to Denver and social entrepreneurs going to San Francisco.
Shchetinina was hosted in San Francisco by the Center for Safe Energy and Open World Young Professional Advisory Committee member Sam Stone. She hopes that her Open World experience will help her launch joint projects in language teaching for young learners.