Thinking outside the box
by John Fopeano,
In the last issue of NewsNotes our Executive Director, Irene Horst, urged us to "Think outside the box and to join forces with other groups that think the way we do."
This April we had a chance to do just that. The International Institute of Buffalo is a hosting organization for the Open World Program (www.openworld.gov) which has sponsored more than 15,500 Eurasian leaders since its inception in 1999. They have stayed with 6100 families in 1800 communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Our two guests were part of a group of six from the Ukraine who were in Buffalo for nine days to learn more about Education Administration. The staff at the International Institute was responsible for their day-time activities which included meetings with the administration of our local colleges and several public-private partnerships dealing with education. We provided sleeping quarters and breakfast and dinner. The rest of the time they were ours to enjoy.
Olena was from Kyiv and Olga from Malta. They had not known each other before this trip but were good friends by the end of their stay. Both of them spoke fluent English so communication was no problem. We were surprised that they expressed no animosity toward the Russians. After our visit last year to the Ukranian Cultural Center in Chicago where bitter resentment of Russian treatment of the Ukraine in the 30s was a central theme, we had expected a more guarded attitude toward Russia. Both Olena and Olga speak Russian and several other languages besides Ukranian and English. We are no experts on the Ukraine but we certainly know more now than we did. Both Olena and Olga have sent us email since they returned home.
One evening we invited the Niagara Frontier chapter members over to meet our guests. And we made sure both Olena and Olga knew all about FIC. We hope they spread the word about our web site.