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The Open World Leadership Center is a professional exchange program between the United States and the countries of Eurasia and the Baltic States that emphasizes hands-on, community-based collaborations that promote partnerships and continued communications between delegates and their American hosts and professional counterparts. Established by Congress in 1999 to enhance understanding and opportunities for cooperation between the United States and Russia, the Open World Leadership Center sponsors week-long professional exchange opportunities. In 2003, Congress made all post-Soviet states eligible for the program. Open World exchanges are designed to correspond with the participating delegates’ professional or civic work, exposing them to ideas and practices they can adapt to their own situations. Thanks to Open World, more than 18,300 current and future Eurasian leaders have experienced American society and have engaged in discussions on new ideas and practices that they can consider for use in their own work.
The Open World Leadership Center has been an ideal avenue for Keystone’s international outreach. Since 2005 when the Open World Leadership Center awarded Keystone grants to administer exchanges, Keystone has hosted several groups of human service leaders from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Perm, Vladimir, Yakutia, Novosibirsk, Pskov, and other regions across the Russian Federation, as well as Azerbaijan and Moldova. The visits focus on issues surrounding child welfare, elder care, autism, intellectual disabilities, community-based services, disability rights, special education and other health care issues.
To participate in the Open World exchanges, persons are nominated and the Open World Leadership Center makes the final selection of delegates. All travel, lodging and meal costs are provided by the Open World Program. Open World delegates are hosted in the homes of families associated with Keystone. Hosted home visits allow Open World delegates to experience American family life. Delegates also take part in several cultural and community activities, including a day trip to New York City, a tour or production at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, a tour of the Pennsylvania Capital and other selected personal choices such as Hershey's Chocolate World or the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. Many delegates have the opportunity to meet with elected officials and professional counterparts during their visit.
Open World delegates are supported by experienced translators that accompany the delegation during the entire visit. Professional translation is important to ensure that knowledge and information is effectively shared between hosts and delegates.
While in the United States, Open World delegates have the opportunity to give a professional presentation on their work to the local community. These presentations help build understanding and collaborations and share important knowledge and expertise.
The Open World delegations allow American counterparts to learn from participants who share expertise, knowledge and important cultural perspectives. Frequently, American colleagues have the opportunity to visit delegates in their home community and continue sharing knowledge, expertise and collaborations. Keystone works to nominate Open World delegates who frequently are or will become partners in our international programs and initiatives.