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Leaders from Azerbaijan examine social issues – equal participation in public life for people with disabilities in Central Pennsylvania

May 18, 2009

Open World

(HARRISBURG-PA) – Seven young professionals from Azerbaijan participating in the Open World Program will spend May 29 – June 6, 2009 in the Harrisburg area examining “Social Issues – Equal Participation in Public Life for People with Disabilities” as they relate to adults and children in the region. Keystone Human Services International will host the delegation. Managed by the independent Open World Leadership Center at the U.S. Library of Congress, Open World is designed to enhance understanding and capabilities for cooperation between the United States and the countries of Eurasia and the Baltic States by developing a network of leaders in the region who have gained significant, firsthand exposure to America’s democratic, accountable government and free-market system.

While in Central Pennsylvania, the delegates will observe the programs of Keystone Human Services to include Early Intervention, Family Preservation and Reunification, Family Based Mental Health, Comprehensive Autism Evaluations, Keystone Residence’s Supportive Living and Independent Living programs, and Gateway Employment Group. They will also visit Capital Area Intermediate Unit Early Intervention Pre-School Program, Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, the Center for Independent Living of Central Pennsylvania, and Tri-County Association for the Blind. A Pennsylvania Senator will personally host the delegation on a tour the Capitol of Pennsylvania and present an overview of American government including an understanding of civic institutions, free enterprise and voluntary organizations as they relate to the theme Social Issues.

Delegates will make a public presentation on Wednesday, June 3rd, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The presentation and dinner will take place at the corporate offices of Keystone – 124 Pine Street, Harrisburg, PA. All Keystone board members, community leaders, and interested personnel have been invited, as well as the general public.

The visiting delegates are: Reyhan Jafarova, Chichak Mustafayeva, Sakina Mustafayeva, Aygun Musayeva, Aydin Khalilov, and Vagif Hasanov, accompanied by facilitator Samir Mammadov.

Charles J. Hooker III, CEO, Keystone Human Services International, stated “We are honored to be chosen again to participate in the Open World Expansion Country Hosting Program. The delegates bring their vast experience into our world providing us the opportunity to see programs and services in a new light. We not only highlight the knowledge and social service practices of our community, but we learn from the experiences of these delegates, who are Social Service leaders in their country.”

“Homestays” will allow the Open World delegates to experience American family life. They will also take part in several cultural and community activities, including a day trip to Philadelphia, a walking tour of Harrisburg, and visits to Hershey and surrounding areas.

The U.S. Congress established Open World in 1999 to enhance understanding and capabilities for cooperation between the United States and Russia. In 2003, Congress made all post-Soviet states eligible for the program. Thanks to Open World, some 13,000 current and future Eurasian leaders have experienced American civil society and have been exposed to new ideas and practices that they can adapt for use in their own work. Open World also promotes partnerships and continued communications between delegates and their American hosts and professional counterparts. Open World currently operates exchanges for political and civic leaders from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

For more information, please contact Charles J. Hooker III, CEO, Keystone Human Services International or Melissa Kreidler by calling 717-232-7509; or visit Keystone’s web site at www.keystonehumanservices.org, or you may contact Maura Shelden, Open World Public Affairs Officer at 202-707-6197. For more information on the Open World Leadership Center, please visit http://www.openworld.gov.

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