By Dee Longfellow
In November of 2018, the Independent brought its readers a story about a delegation of visitors who came to Chicago from Russia, two of whom stayed with a family in Elmhurst.
The men were part of the Open World program—part of the Open World Leader-ship Center at the Library of Congress, designed to build understanding and cooperation among Congress, American communities and global leaders.
Thanks once again to the Open World Leadership Cen-ter, a delegation of high-ranking leaders from Ukraine is scheduled to visit Elmhurst as part of a 10-day visit to Washington, D.C., and Illinois. The Center is a legislative branch agency that sup-ports Congressional outreach for members of Congress and conducts exchanges that establish lasting professional relationships between emerging leaders and their U.S. counterparts in democratic institutions.
Delegates are given extensive exposure to American poli-tics, civic life, and are hosted by American families.
Just like last year, George Palamattam, executive director for the Council of International Programs (CIP Chica\go), will once again be the host organizer along the tour and will coordinate the accommodations and relation-ships with the host families. CIP Chicago is the nonprofit organization that is organizing the delegates’ activities in Illinois.
The visiting delegates include Olekshii Mushak, the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Economic Affairs; Valerii Karpuntsov, who is a prosecutor; Taras Kremin, Com-missioner for the Protection of the State Language; and Olena Matuzko, co-founder of the Institute for Information Security. Roman Oleksenko, Community Development Program Manager from the Peace Corps in Ukraine, will serve as the program’s facilitator.
“More than 29,000 current and future leaders from post-Soviet era countries have participated in an Open World exchange program,” said Palamattam. “Open World offers one of the most effective U.S. exchange pro-grams to promote mutually beneficial options for depolarized engagement between future national leaders.”
On the visit to Elmhurst the delegates will meet with the Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley, City Manager Jim Grabowski and 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Dunn.
“They will also visit with the Police Chief and other law enforcement officials, as rule of law is one of the main focuses of their U.S. tour,” Palamattam said.
The delegates will collaborate on best practices for rule of law. Meetings with U. S. Rep. Mike Quigley and State Sen. Don Harmon are on their week-long agenda in Illinois. Additional visits planned are to the U.S. 7th District Court, the Injustice Watch, College of DuPage, Moraine Valle Community College, and the Academy for Global Citizenship in Chicago.
The delegates also will meet and interact with the Director of the Veterans Administration and David Greising from the Better Government Association (BGA). They will tour other sites in Chicago and Illinois, including the Magnificent Mile, the Field Museum and Willis Tower. Additionally, the delegation will meet with leaders from the Ukrainian diaspora at a gathering at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Blooming-dale.
The delegation will stay in the homes of local residents. Host family living is a key component of the program that facilitates cross-cultural exchange and has been traditionally very popular and well-liked by the hosting American families and the visiting international dele-gates.