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Lithuanian Leaders Visit United States on Open World Program
September 9, 2004

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC - Fifty-four young Lithuanian political and civic leaders will spend September 8-19 in the United States on the Open World Program's new exchange program with Lithuania. The visiting Lithuanians include eight mayors, six district administrators, and numerous city administrators, journalists, educators, and NGO officials. Managed by the Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress, Open World enables emerging Eurasian decision makers to see American democracy and free enterprise in action during working visits to communities across the United States.

During their visit, the Lithuanians will split into small delegations tailored to their professional backgrounds. The delegations will visit 10 different communities across the United States to take part in weeklong local programs, each based on a designated theme ranging from rural development to education reform, youth issues and the environment.

A group of Lithuanian journalists being hosted in Washington, DC, will discuss political coverage with Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, Rep. John Shimkus (co-chair of the Baltic Caucus), journalist Haynes Johnson, and others. Political coverage is an especially timely topic in both the United States and in Lithuania, which is holding parliamentary elections next month.

In addition to Washington, DC, Open World will host the Lithuanians in Chicago; Cleveland; Decatur, GA; Middlebury, VT; Omaha, NE; Portland, OR; Reno, NV; Syracuse, NY; and Tucson, AZ. Highlights include discussing local government with Tucson's mayor and city manager; studying political polling at Gallup University's Omaha campus; and examining the operations of a neighborhood mediation center in Reno. All delegates will have homestays, allowing them to participate in American family life.

Lithuania became eligible for Open World in 2003, when the U.S. Congress authorized the program to expand beyond the Russian Federation, the sole focus of its early years of operation, to the three Baltic republics and the 11 other countries of the New Independent States. Open World hosted its first Lithuanian groups in early 2004.

In addition to its Lithuania program, Open World also currently conducts exchanges for leaders from Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Delegates learn about the responsibilities of and interrelationships between the three branches and different levels (federal, state, and local) of the U.S. government, while taking part in American community and cultural life. Program participants also explore how the U.S. private and nonprofit sectors help meet social and civic needs. Local professional visits emphasize hands-on experiences, direct observation, and substantive exchange between the participants and their U.S. counterparts. The program's administering 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.

The Academy for Educational Development; Friendship Force International; the International Institute of the Graduate School, USDA; ISAR, Inc.; and the National Peace Foundation are overseeing the Lithuanians' local programs for Open World.

For more information, please contact George Felcyn at (202) 466-6210 or For more background on Open World, please visit