For Immediate Release
First delegates for new pilot programs to arrive in December
Washington, DC – The Open World Leadership Center announced today it is initiating pilot exchange programs with Ukraine and Uzbekistan, hosting a total of 99 political and civic leaders from the two countries in the United States in December 2003.
The U.S. Congress established the Open World Program in 1999 to bring emerging Russian political and civic leaders to the United States for 10-day visits to meet their American counterparts and gain firsthand knowledge of how American civil society works. Open World’s implementing agency, the Open World Leadership Center, is an independent legislative branch entity that works cooperatively with the U.S. Department of State and other U.S. executive and judicial branch agencies.
Over the past four years, the Center’s Open World Program has brought more than 7,000 Russian leaders to all 50 U.S. states to build mutual understanding between the United States and the Russian Federation. In 2003, Congress authorized the Center to expand Open World on a pilot basis to other countries of the former Soviet Union.
“The success of the Open World approach led Congress to authorize the expansion of the program. Our Board of Trustees selected Ukraine and Uzbekistan for pilot programs in 2003,” said Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress and Chair of the Open World Board of Trustees. “On behalf of our Board, I want to thank the U.S. embassies in Ukraine and Uzbekistan for providing us with excellent assistance and guidance to get these programs off to a productive start.”
Ukraine’s 50 participants include top journalists, NGO leaders, education professionals and lawyers. The Open World visitors will comprise 10 delegations focusing on one of the following themes: NGO development, independent media, and electoral processes.
The focus on elections is particularly timely, as Ukraine is preparing to hold presidential elections in autumn 2004.
“The expansion of the Open World Program to Ukraine comes at an important stage in Ukraine’s transition to a democratic society,” said U.S. Ambassador John Herbst. “Bringing together U.S. and Ukrainian political and civic leaders assists in this transition and strengthens bilateral relations.”
Ukraine’s delegates will be hosted in the United States by these Open World grantees: the Academy for Educational Development; Friendship Force International; the International Institute of the Graduate School, USDA; and Vital Voices Global Partnership. The host cities for the delegations are Washington, DC; Atlanta; Cincinnati; Youngwood, PA; and Memphis, TN.
Among Uzbekistan’s delegates are senior government officials—including the Deputy Minister of Finance, the Director of the Center for Effective Economic Policy, and the Chief of the Ministry of Health’s Mother and Infancy Protection Center—and prominent journalists, NGO leaders and emerging entrepreneurs. The 49 Uzbek participants will divide into 10 delegations focusing on economic development, health, or independent media.
Open World grantees the Academy for Educational Development, the American International Health Alliance, and Rotary International will welcome the Uzbek delegates in Huntsville, AL; Los Angeles; Santa Cruz, CA; Des Moines, IA; Lexington, KY; Cleveland; Kent, OH; Bethlehem, PA; Grapevine, TX; and Seattle.
“Open World is contributing greatly to efforts to strengthen democracy and economic growth in Uzbekistan by enabling a cross-section of Uzbek leaders to see the U.S. democratic process at work and to exchange ideas with their American counterparts,” said the Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan, David Appleton. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for the people of Uzbekistan and the United States to learn about each other’s society, and to establish meaningful contacts,” he added.
For the two pilot programs, delegates were chosen from a pool of candidates nominated by prominent Ukrainian, Uzbek, and Western nongovernmental organizations and by U.S government agencies within the U.S. diplomatic missions to Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Vetting committees at the U.S. embassies in Kyiv and Tashkent made the final selections using a competitive process. The committees included embassy staff, subject experts, and Open World representatives.
The Open World Program brings emerging political and civic leaders from participating countries to communities across the United States. Delegations experience American community and cultural life while learning about the responsibilities of and interrelationships between the three branches and different levels (federal, state, and local) of the U.S. government. Program participants also explore how the U.S. private and nonprofit sectors help meet social and civic needs. Participants engage in hands-on experiences, direct observation, and substantive exchange with their professional counterparts.
Open World’s contractor for logistical and administrative support, American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, is assisting with program implementation in Ukraine, Uzbekistan and the United States.
For more background on Open World, please contact Dara Klatt at 202-466-6210 or visit http://www.openworld.gov.