Since 1999, The Open World Program has brought over 29,000 exceptional leaders from 20+ countries to the United States. It was first started by a bipartisan Congressional measure focused on strengthening relations with Eurasian countries in a post- Soviet Union world. Nowadays, the program works to enhance public diplomacy, strengthen international ties, while creating meaningful interactions between Members of Congress and American citizens.

Over the past two decades, the Open World Program has proven to be a cost effective way to introduce leaders of emerging countries to the legislative processes that keep democracy alive. This is done by providing in-depth programming centered around each participant’s themes of interest in Congress, all while being engrossed in American culture through interaction with Host Families. This exposure to American Politics, culture, government, and citizen diplomacy, creates strong ties between the participants and the communities they stay in.

Global Ties KC is grateful to have the opportunity to host current and future leaders from the Open World Program since 2017. During their stay, Open World participants become an important part of the Kansas City community.

This week for our DiverceKC program, we are highlighting the country of Ukraine. We have hosted a multitude of extraordinary Open World participants from the country of Ukraine, and would like to share some of the amazing work that they have done. Each participant brings with them a versatile set of skills and knowledge. In their home country, participants have done important work in the following fields: Investigative Journalism, fighting for Roma Human Rights Issues, as well as Combatting Human trafficking.

In March of 2019, Mrs. Yulian Anatoliiovych Kondur and Mr Artur Yuriiovych Ivanenko as well as three other Open World participants, visited Kansas City for a week-long stay. Their group was focused on Roma Human Rights Issues, and the work they did in their home country reflected that. In Ukraine, Mrs. Kondur is a Project Coordinator for an International Charity called Roma Women Fund Chirieli. The fund focuses on ensuring Roma women have access to education, healthcare, and educating the public on other social issues as well as human rights. Her theme of interest in the US was gaining more knowledge on the American Civil Rights movement as well as the experiences of the Native American population. Mr. Ivanenko works in the Kherson region of Ukraine as a dentist providing free Medical care to vulnerable populations. He is also a Chairman of the Board for an NGO named “Kherson City Association of Young Roma.” This organization assists young Roma by providing medical care, higher education, legal aid, and the development of English language skills.

In addition to education and tackling social issues, Ukraine, like many places around the world is working towards the elimination of Human Trafficking. In March of 2017, Global Ties KC hosted six Open World participants who do invaluable work preventing Human Trafficking in Ukraine.

Ms. Anna Valeriivna Saienko is a lawyer in Eastern Ukraine. She works with “La Strada Ukraine” (a non-governmental organization) providing legal advice, lectures, training, and seminars for the organization. In addition to this she is a legal consultant on the National Domestic Abuse hotline for Ukraine. Ms. Saienko works with young people as a consultant for the “OPEN” project. As a part of the OPEN organization she provides legal advice to youth traveling abroad as well as providing information to prevent Human Trafficking. Ms. Natalia Oleksandrivna Vesna is the head of the legal department at the Consumer Societies Union of Khmelnytsky Region. In addition to this, Ms.Vesna works with La Stara Ukraine representing people in court as well as providing free legal advice. She emphasises that there are many small things people can do to help prevent Human trafficking.

Another important focus of the Open World participants is journalism. In November of 2019, Global Ties KC hosted six participants whose work is centered around investigative journalism. Focused on bringing awareness to different issues such as judicial reform, elections, anti-corruption bodies, as well as legislation violations, these participants help solve injustices through their writing. Ms. Valeriia Andriivna Yehoshyna Valeriia knows first hand how important it is to shed light on critical issues. Her work at “Schemes: Corruption in Detail” has influenced the politics of Ukraine, causing some top-level public officials and supervisory authorities to be dismissed after her high profile stories have uncovered previously hidden information. She has many awards for her journalistic work but she considers one of her most important awards to be an award from the Thomson Foundation award, which is one the oldest international media organizations. In the US, she studied American work logic and the possibility of potential trans-border cooperation scenarios.

Our time with the Ukrainan Open World participants is always very enlightening and we hope to be able to host more extraordinary participants in the future. If you would like to learn more about the country of Ukraine check out our most recent newsletter here! Want to receive more newsletters from us? Click here to sign up for our mailing list!