Kiwanis Club hosts Russian guests
By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist
The Kiwanis Club of Helena welcomed 10 special guests from Russia hosted by the Friendship Force of Birmingham to their meeting on June 11. All were participants in the Open World Program with a theme of Accountable Governance.
Local Kiwanis program chairpersons Gerald and Callie Waldrop arranged for them to hear an overview of Kiwanis from members Coke Clark and Jerry Pate and information about Kiwanis sponsored youth programs and Helena’s “All Kids” Boundless Playground from Camille Maier and Claudia Deason.
The delegation was escorted by Exchange Directors Eva Herron and Jackie Matte with translation provided by Elena Goldis and Kate Humphrey, who lived in the USSR, before becoming American citizens.
Mayor Mark Hall answered their individual questions at City Hall and provided a tour of the facility including police and fire departments. They also toured HES and HMS escorted by principals Mary Cooper and Scott Knight.
In the diverse group from various Russian cities were a post-graduate student/scientist/businessman studying IT companies, both successful start-ups and established leaders in the area of 3-D scanning systems. They were seeking advice on present investment and cooperative marketing opportunities for a system they are developing called “3Dom”.
Others were seeking to learn more about the U.S. health care system, particularly Medicare and Medicare programs and recent health care reforms. They were seeking the best American practices to share with state and municipal officials responsible for development and realization of the social policy in Russia.
A participant in the “For Fair Elections” movement planned to “identify common grounds for growth and further development of the civil society.”
Some were involved with innovative companies within institutions of higher education, such as Urals Federal University, working to research energy efficiency and innovative conservation technologies. They hoped to establish contacts that might lead to opportunities for joint projects with American colleagues.
From speaking with Ksenia Semenova, 28, one of the group facilitators who presented me with her bi-lingual business card and spoke fluent English, I learned she works for Heinz Foodservice as a Junior Brand manager.
All were interested in the business and management practices of American companies, non-profit organizations, and municipal government structures with the intention of bettering their own country.