HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (July 24, 2002) - A delegation of emerging Russian leaders will study health issues in Huntsville during the next week. The delegation is touring the United States as part of the U.S. Congress- sponsored Open World Program. The program is managed by the Center for Russian Leadership Development, an independent agency located at the Library of Congress.
Highlights of the Huntsville-area visit include meeting with Dr. Frank Franz, president of The University of Alabama in Huntsville. The group will hear a presentation on the university's "Let's Pretend Hospital," a children's outreach program under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Tanner in the College of Nursing.
Other visits include the University of Alabama School of Medicine's Huntsville campus to discuss its disease-based research; a tour of Huntsville Hospital and the National Children's Advocacy Center, founded with leadership by U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer (then-Madison County District Attorney); and visiting two clinics operated by Huntsville City Schools. The delegation will also go to Madison to discuss emergency management with Mayor Jan Wells.
Congressman Cramer of Alabama's Fifth Congressional District represents the U.S. House of Representatives on the Center for Russian Leadership Development's Board of Trustees. Rep. Cramer met with the participants in his Capitol Hill office during their July 23 orientation in Washington, DC.
The Russian delegation visiting Alabama includes a senior research fellow at the State Science and Research Institute of Family and Education in Moscow, the chief physician of the State Diagnostic Center of Novosibirsk Region (in southern Siberia), an epidemiologist who serves as deputy director of an AIDS center operated by the regional government of Kemerovo (also in southern Siberia), and the chief physician of a medical center in Udmurtia (a republic in eastern European Russia).
The Center for Russian Leadership Development 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 Huntsville partner, the Office of International Education and Research (OIER) at UAH, has arranged the Russian delegation's professional program, accommodations in private homes, meals, local transportation, and cultural activities. OIER's director, Dr. John R. Pottenger, is participating in the delegation's orientation at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and in their Huntsville program.
The Open World Program 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 participate in Open World this year.
More than 4,500 Open World visitors from all 89 Russian regions have been hosted in 49 states since the program began in 1999. Participants are drawn from a wide range of political parties and ethnic groups, and more than a third are women--a high proportion 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.