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Russian Local Leaders Visit Bellingham Youth Programs Through Open World Program
September 24, 2004

For Immediate Release

Group Includes Delegates From Bellingham’s Sister City of Nakhodka

Washington, DC — Four Russian local leaders participating in the Open World Program will spend Sept. 24–Oct. 2 in Bellingham examining the city’s youth programs with municipal officials, educators, and NGO managers. Three of the four Russian delegates come from Nakhodka, Bellingham’s sister city in the Russian Far East. The exchange is being conducted for Open World by the Bellingham Sister Cities Association.

Managed by the independent Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress, Open World enables emerging political and civic leaders from Russia and other participating countries to observe American political and civic institutions in action and to exchange views and expertise with their U.S. counterparts.

Highlights of the Open World delegation’s Bellingham schedule include discussing how the city government supports youth programs with Mayor Mark Asmundson and City Council Member Louise Bjornson; visiting Bellingham High School and Options High School; learning how Junior Achievement and DECCA encourage youth entrepreneurship; sharing strategies for serving at-risk children at Northwest Youth Services and the Opportunity Council; attending a fundraising workshop and a reception for the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction; and discussing youth mentoring at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington.

The Open World delegates traveling to Bellingham are Anna Kaporina, a maternal and child welfare specialist in the Nakhodka city administration; Svetlana Kovalchuk, a manager and translator at the International Seamen’s Club, which provides social and recreational services to Russian and foreign sailors visiting Nakhodka’s port; Sergey Kuvayev, the director of a large municipal after-school center in Sarov (in central European Russia), and Tatyana Minenok, the extra-curricular activities coordinator at the Altair Children’s Business Cultural Center in Nakhodka.

Homestays with Western Washington University faculty will introduce the Russian delegates to American family and community life.

The Open World Program is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress designed to build mutual understanding between the emerging leaders of Russia and other participating countries and their U.S. counterparts. More than 8,000 participants from all 89 Russian regions have stayed in all 50 U.S. states since Open World’s inception in 1999. Over the last year, Open World has also initiated pilot exchanges with Lithuania, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Open World delegates range from members of parliament to mayors, from innovative nonprofit directors to experienced journalists, and from political party activists to regional administrators. 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.

Open World has awarded a grant to the Academy for Educational Development to administer the Bellingham visit and similar exchanges in 2004.

For more information on this exchange, please contact Olga Kurochkina at 360-920-8791 or George Felcyn at The PBN Company at 202-466-6210. For more information on the Open World Program, please visit