ELKHART – The city of Elkhart is hosting a visiting delegation from Russia this week.
The group is from a small community near the Volga River and they plan to learn all they can about life in a typical American city. They hope to take back what they learn about democracy and use it back home.
On Monday, six members of the Russian delegation visited Elkhart’s City Hall aiming to learn about the educational, political, and cultural make-up of the city. The trip was set up with the help of the Elkhart Sister City program.
“These are all professionals,” said Doloris Cogan, from Sister City Association. “Ones a lawyer, one's a doctor and the mayor of a little suburb is here. Several of them are on the city council. It’s a very accomplished group.”
Cogan says the group is interested in how Elkhart has handled the recession because their country is in a recession as well. The trip is funded by an international group known as Open World.
Vera Lecount, with the organization, was born in Russia near the same area as the delegates. She now resides in Elkhart.
“The main purpose of this project is advancing democracy in Russia,” said Lecount. “The theme of their visit is accountable governance in dealing with the economic downturn in Elkhart.”
As you might expect, the delegation had many questions about life in America, and here in Elkhart, a Russian mayor with the group wanted to learn more information about how the city hall and how the government is ran.
“It’s just interesting that we learn from each other,” said Moore. “They are questioning me now quite a bit on how we operate versus how they operate.”
Part of the Russian delegation's itinerary will include a trip to Notre Dame. Elkhart leaders would like to establish a sister city relationship with the Russian city where the visitors live.