A 52-person delegation of current and future Russian leaders is visiting the United States December 4–14 through the Open World Russian Leadership Program, a congressionally sponsored exchange at the Library of Congress. Open World fosters mutual understanding between the United States and Russia by introducing young Russian political and civic leaders to their American counterparts and immersing them in the day-to-day workings of America's democratic institutions and free-market system.
After an orientation session in Washington, D.C., participant groups will each visit one of the following 12 cities: Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Iowa City, Iowa.; Los Angeles; New Orleans; Orlando, Fla.; Pittsburgh; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Reno, Nev.; Sacramento; San Diego; and Worcester, Mass.
Participants will spend a week in their host communities pursuing an intensive program focused on federalism. Open World has teamed up with two prominent nonprofit organizations—Meridian International Center and their partner, the National Council for International Visitors—to help develop and carry out the participants' local programs.
The Russian visitors represent 32 of Russia's 89 regions and a broad mix of professions: journalists and other media professionals; educators; federal, regional, and municipal officials; local legislators; community activists; NGO directors; businesspeople; and political party activists. "This remarkably diverse group of up-and-coming Russian leaders illustrates one of Open World's great strengths—its success in involving participants from a wide cross section of the country's regions and professions," noted Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress.
This is the third year of the Open World Program, which has brought to the United States nearly 4,000 young Russian leaders from 87 regions, including almost 150 members of the Russian Parliament. The program was proposed in 1999 by Dr. Billington, a leading scholar of Russian history and culture. Originally known as the Russian Leadership Program, it was administered during its 1999–2001 pilot phase by the Library of Congress at the direction of the U.S. Congress. Recognizing the success of the program and the importance of its mission, Congress in December 2000 authorized the new, independent Center for Russian Leadership at the Library of Congress to provide a permanent home for the exchange.
Dr. Billington noted that there was a precedent for the program in a component of the post-World War II Marshall Plan under which emerging young West German leaders were brought to the United States for similar visits and became the leaders of their country's successful transition to democracy.
The American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS is managing the logistical and administrative aspects of the delegation's visit on behalf of Open World. (Contact: Lewis Madanick, Program Manager, 202-833-7522, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)