Exchange DetailBACK TO MAP
In September, ACYPL sent a seven-member delegation to Russia for a 10-day exchange program. Over the course of the program, the group visited Moscow, Cheboksary, and Novocheboksarsky. The group was high-profile, and included the President of the City Council of Boise, ID, a Member of the City Council of Chelsea, MA, and a Member of the Wyoming State Senate. The exchange was conducted in collaboration with Youth Public Chamber of Russia, with whom ACYPL has worked for over five years.
Before departing for Russia, the delegation had the rare opportunity to visit the Russian Embassy and meet with the Russian Ambassador to the US, who shared his perspective on the importance of exchanges between the two countries. The group also discussed recent developments between the US and Russia with an expert from the Wilson Center. In Moscow, the meetings focused largely on national governance, as the delegation visited the State Duma to learn about the similarities and differences between the major political parties from Duma members. The group was also able to observe the Moscow mayoral race and visit a polling station enabling them to compare and contrast voting in Russia to the US.
Additional highlights included a comprehensive discussion of the Russian health care system with the Minister of Health, Veronika Skvorcova, and a meeting about US-Russian relations with US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. One delegate said that “Each of [our] meetings built upon each other providing fabric of understanding and meaning. Each of [our] experiences can be compared and contrasted to each other as well as against our American experiences.”
After a slight delay in getting to Cheboksary, the delegation discussed state governance with the Speaker of the State Council of the Chuvash Republic and city governance from members of the Cheboksary City Council. They also spent a day in nearby Novocheboksarsky, where they learned about the role of local elected officials from the Novocheboksarsk City Council of Deputies and waste management during a visit to a recycling plant. One of the group’s more unique experiences in Chuvash was a visit to the Yasna ethnic ecological village, where they donned traditional attire while engaging in folk crafts. After returning to Moscow, the delegation had an enlightening discussion about human rights and women’s rights with Irina Khakamada, a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights and received an insiders perspective about the role of the media from representatives from The Moscow Times and the Echo of Moscow radio station.
Outside of their busy schedule, the delegation was able to enjoy some cultural activities. In addition to touring Moscow and the Kremlin, the group walked the waterfront promenade in Cheboksary, which runs alongside the Volga River, and visited a traditional Russian “bana” (bathhouse). After another productive exchange, we look forward to our continued partnership with Youth Public Chamber.