November 6, 2013, Vol. 5, Issue 5

November 6, 2013, Vol. 5, Issue 5

Center News

Pictured together at a pre-concert press conference are, from left: Open World Executive Director John O'Keefe, Igor Butman, Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, Susan Carmel Lehrman, American University's Dr. Anton Fedyashin, and the Brubeck Institute's Director Dr. Simon Rowe.

WASHINGTON, DC – In early October, Open World proudly partnered with American University’s Initiative for Russian Culture (endowed by philanthropist Susan Carmel Lehrman) and the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific to host two remarkable tributes to U.S.-Russian jazz relations.

On Oct. 8, the National Building Museum provided the setting for a spectacular homage to jazz diplomacy and the success of the Initiative for Russian Culture, which is celebrating its third year. Russian saxophone luminary Igor Butman headlined the free public event. And two Open World Russian Cultural Leaders jazz alumni and an in-demand vocalist joined creative forces with the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet to perform as the US-Russian Rising Stars Jazz Band. The young jazz artists were thrilled when Butman joined them onstage for a robust jam session.

The second event was held October 10 at the popular DC Russian restaurant Mari Vanna, where the US-Russian Rising Stars Jazz Band again wowed the crowd. 

Hosting Corner

U.S.-Ukraine Foundation's John Kun (center) with the September delegation.

ARLINGTON, VA - “They arrived as strangers but left filled with optimism and ideas for how to improve their own home, half a world away” is how the Arlington Connection newspaper described the Open World experience of Ukrainian NGO delegates hosted in Virginia in September by the Arlington Sister City Association (ASCA). The five delegates all hailed from Arlington’s sister city of Ivano-Frankivsk, a city in western Ukraine that dates from the seventeenth century. Four delegates had taken part in the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine’s May “Techcamp Ivano-Frankivsk 2.0,” designed to develop the technological capacity of civil society organizations in western Ukraine. The Open World visit built on this training and further strengthened the thriving Arlington–Ivano-Frankivsk sister-city relationship, which was formalized in 2011.

ASCA and host coordinator Andrew Tsintsiruk put together a program that exposed the delegates to U.S. best practices in each of their interest areas, which range from political activism to community development. Representatives from CRDF Global (a nonprofit that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration) and the Northern Virginia Technology Council joined the Ukrainians to brainstorm ways to promote IT innovation and entrepreneurship in their region. Arlington Economic Development staff briefed the delegation on urban economic development policies, including strategic planning. Learning about the role of volunteers at the Arlington Free Clinic was especially inspiring to a delegate involved in health care delivery and parent education. Election procedures were a main focus of a meeting with senior directors of the International Republican Institute. And an aide to Rep. Jim Moran fielded questions from the delegates on such topics as U.S.-Ukraine relations and the role of U.S. NGOs in keeping government officials accountable to their constituents.

The information sharing worked both ways. Kateryna Shevtsova, the Ukrainian facilitator who accompanied the delegation, said that “all the participants were greatly impressed by the interest of the Arlington community in Ukrainian culture and life and the willingness of local authorities to learn from their Ukrainian counterparts.” This observation was echoed by Malcolm Phillips, chair of ASCA’s board, who said, “This cross-cultural visit is an exchange of knowledge between Ivano-Frankivsk and Arlington, and particularly an acknowledgement of what Ukraine can bring to the world.”

Since 2009, ASCA has worked with the U.S-Ukraine Foundation (USUF) to host a total of four Open World delegations from Ivano-Frankivsk. USUF Vice President/Chief Operating Officer John Kun credits the visits with helping make the Ivano-Frankivsk–Arlington sister-city partnership possible, and foresees business and cultural relationships developing between the two communities as a result of these deepening ties.