Open World Leadership CenterWarm smiles. High energy. Endless enthusiasm. Poised professionalism. Fluent English.

The members of the Open World team from Ukraine impressed everyone they met during their week-long stay in Lawrence. Lawrence Central Rotarians welcomed members of the Open World team from Ukraine to their meeting on September 28.

The group of five educators, their facilitator, and an interpreter spent a week in Lawrence exploring the learning programs available here and in nearby communities. At Rotary meetings, each person on the team described his or her work and gave a reaction to what the team was seeing in the United States.

Open World team from Ukraine 2016Left to right, the team members are pictured with Jim Peters, president of Lawrence Central Rotary:

  • Oleksandr Elkin led the presentations to Rotary clubs, first showing a brief video about Ukraine, its landscape, cities, and industries. Oleksandr also highlighted his work as chairman of “EdCamp Ukraine,” an international movement dedicated to professional development for teachers. On the trip, Oleks sought to find ideas to improve teacher development and to observe technology innovations in teaching methods.
  • Yaryna Datskiv works in a center that assesses educational quality for three regions of Ukraine. Her goal for the trip was to learn more about American secondary education standards and testing methodologies.
  • Vladimir Bassis, a Ukrainian who now lives and works in Des Moines, served as interpreter during the visit.
  • Oksana Puha teaches English at the post-secondary level. She came to learn about new developments in foreign language teaching.
  • Asia Zaiets is the principal of a school in a small town. She supervises over seventy teachers and 700 students (grades 1-11) all housed in one building. Asia is interested in innovation and in management techniques that will help her teaching staff grow.
  • Halyna Kaluzhna served as the facilitator for the group. Fluent in English, she also a teacher of English.
  • Oksana Domaratska is an elementary teacher in a school situated in a village outside Lutsk. Although she did not speak any English, she readily communicated her love of children, passion for culture and travel, and fascination with nature.
  • Jim Peters is president of Lawrence Central Rotary.

The three Lawrence Rotary clubs cooperated to plan and implement the itinerary that the group followed. Activities included visits to alternative education settings, various K-12 buildings, and the district office in the Lawrence school district. They met faculty and administrative staff at area universities, colleges, and junior colleges. The team met local officials on the school board and in city, county and state governments. They spent a morning in Topeka touring the Kansas Statehouse and the Brown vs. Board of Education Museum. In between, they forged friendships with Rotarians at multiple social events and weekly Rotary meetings.

The Open World Leadership Center program is an arm of the U.S. Congress. Its mission is to introduce young foreign leaders to the American democratic governing systems and free market operations at every level: federal, state, and local. According to Executive Director John M. O’Keefe, the program partners with service clubs such as Rotary to support Congressional interests to fulfill its mission to serve Members of Congress who desire to both better inform their own foreign policy formulation and inform other nations of U.S. values.