Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bonjour d’Algérie Morning TV Show with Youth Leadership Program (YLP) Participants


Following the return of 25 students and 3 teachers from an intensive month-long YLP experience in Reno, Nevada, 5 YLP participants and Cultural Officer Valerie Wheat appeared on Bonjour d’Algérie to talk about the program. While a documentary film produced entirely by the students played in the background, the participants shared stories of their time in the U.S., and described the benefits they received through intensive English language learning, leadership and civic engagement exercises, and diversity training. The students were exemplary “Junior Ambassadors”, demonstrating the importance of promoting tolerance and understanding of other people, and encouraging future participation in this annual program open to all youth across Algeria.

Footage provided by the US Embassy in Algeiria. http://algiers.usembassy.gov/
Pictured above are Mohamed Ouamoussa and Chanez Hendel, both of Algiers. Interview includes Valerie Wheat of the US Embassy, Amina Boumaza (English teacher from Algiers), Yasser Meghari (Blida), and Tinhinane El Kadi (Algiers). The “Bonjour d’Algérie” morning show is broadcast by Canal Algérie (the Algerian state television’s European and American satellite channel).
video

Ambassador Pearce's Comments regarding the Youth Leadership Program for Algeria


The Youth Leadership Program (YLP) for 2009 started officially on July 12 2009 at the Embassy with the 25 selected students coming in to the consular section for their visa interviews, followed by a lunch buffet hosted by the Ambassador at his residence in Algiers. The morning also included an information session for the students and their parents, led by the Northern Nevada International Center, the official implementer of the program. The session provided time for the many questions prior to the travel of these “junior Ambassadors.” This year the program will commence with the 2 week English language/orientation in Setif, 4 hours southeast of Algiers, and then 4 weeks in Reno, Nevada.

Ambassador David D. Pearce's comments at the Luncheon on July 12 2009:

"Welcome to the U.S. Embassy and to the official opening of the Youth Leadership Program 2009. Congratulations to the 25 students and 3 Teachers and Chaperones selected to participate in this program. We commend you for your talents and skills that were demonstrated during the application and interview process. We are counting on each one of you to take full advantage of this opportunity to improve your English language skills and your leadership skills, and to learn firsthand about the United States and its people.

This is the 5th year of the Youth Leadership Program in Algeria. The USG commends the support that the Ministry of National Education has provided in the past, and we look forward to a relationship of mutual support and cooperation. We have 25 excellent students this year, up from 20 last year, and we hope that with each year, the number of students selected will increase.

This year we have the support of the Northern Nevada International Center and “Le Club scientifique de la Faculte des Sciences Medicales” who are are partners in the U.S and Setif for this program. We thank these two organizations for their dedication and commitments.
Now I would like to ask that Mr. Joaquin Roces of the NNIC, and Dr. Khalil Sakhri come forward to say a few words of welcome.

Thank you very much, and once again, congratulations to the 25 students and 3 Teachers and Chaperones."

President Bush nominated David Pearce, a 26-year veteran of the Foreign Service with long experience in the Middle East, as the U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria in June 2008. Ambassador Pearce was confirmed by the Senate in August 2008.Ambassador Pearce entered the Foreign Service in January 1982, serving first as a vice consul and political officer in Riyadh. From 1984 to 1985, he was a watch officer in the State Department Operations Center, followed by a 1985-87 tour as a country desk officer for Greece. In 1987-88, he studied Arabic at the Foreign Service Institute field school in Tunis, then became chief of the political section at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait. During the Gulf War, Ambassador Pearce worked as a liaison officer with the Kuwaiti government-in-exile in Taif, Saudi Arabia. He returned to Washington in 1991 to become a special assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. From 1994-97, he was Consul General in Dubai and from 1997-2001 he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. From September 2001 to July 2003, he was Director of the Department of State’s Office of Northern Gulf Affairs, with responsibility for Iraq and Iran. In May-June 2003, Ambassador Pearce served with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. He was Chief of Mission and Consul General at the United States Consulate General in Jerusalem from September 29, 2003 through July 2005, and then Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the United States Embassy in Rome from 2005-2008.

Ambassador Pearce was born in Portland, Maine on June 9, 1950, and received his bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in 1972 and an M.A. in journalism from Ohio State University in 1973. He has been married since 1978 to the former Leyla Baroody. The Pearces have two children: Jennifer, who recently received her master’s degree in community and regional planning at the University of Oregon, and Joseph, who is studying for a master’s degree in Arabic studies at Georgetown University.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Speech at the residence of the US Ambassador to Algeria : 12 July 2009


These short comments were made at the residence of the US Ambassador to Algeria, David Pearce, in Algiers, Algeria. It was during a luncheon Ambassador Pearce hosted for the participants and families of the Youth Leadership Program for Algeria. In attendance were the 28 participants, their parents, embassy and consular staff, and representatives from Algeria's Ministry of Education.

"Since I arrived here in your country as a guest, I have learned what Valerie and the Ambassador already know: that the American and Algerian people share a great many common things. Both our countries were born out of a desire by our founding fathers to break free of the yoke of colonialism and imperialism. Our national identities have been shaped by that struggle for freedom and desire for independence.

In 1957, Senator John Kennedy publicly denounced French colonialism in Algeria and as president, he was the first to recognize a free and independent Algeria and to officially meet with your country's first president, Monsieur Ben Bella.

As I look out at the fresh young faces of the participants, I am reminded of the words of President Kennedy which hang in our library at the University of Nevada Reno. The torch now passes to you, a new generation of Algerians born in this century, the first generation of this new millennium and like your American counterparts in Reno, you too, have been tempered by war and disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, both our nations are proud of our ancient heritage and rich history, and unwilling to watch the slow undoing of those democratic principles to which both our countries and people have always been committed to , and remain committed to today, at home and around the world.

Kennedy's words electrified the Afro-Arab world and the Muslim people of Algeria long remembered his courageous words that helped carry them through the "darkest period" of their armed struggle against the French. Now, that torch has been passed to you, the next generation, to light the way and lead our countries into the future. In closing I wish to read a passage from the Al Baqarah in the Koran:

"Those that gave their wealth for the cause of God can be compared to a grain of corn which brings forth seven ears, each bearing a hundred grains."

(Original Arabic quote was read by an interpreter, Houda Bouhidel)

Each of you here today is like that grain of corn, a seed of peace, in whom the dreams of both of our countries rests. May Allah bless our joint venture so that each seed of peace we plant here and in America yield a hundred years of peace and friendship between our two countries."

Monday, August 17, 2009

25 Algerian Students to Visit Northern Nevada, Will Stay with Local Families By Jennifer Burton


(The following appeared in the July 2009 issue of Positively Northern Nevada with Jennifer Burton http://www.positivelynorthernnevada.com/)


If you could tell 25 students from North Africa something about the America, what would it be? Ten local high school students and about a dozen host families will have that chance when 25 Algerian high school students arrive in Reno for a three week conference on leadership and media later this month.

Algeria is 99 percent Muslim and the students, who speak French, English and Arabic, will have a chance to share their their culture with ours and vice versa.

“I was impressed by their level of English and comprehension and their grasp of pretty complicated concepts of American History,” said Joaquin Roces who reviewed the essays the students wrote to be considered for the program.

Roces, who is with the Northern Nevada International Center, left for Algeria last week to meet the students and will bring them to Reno at the end of July. Once here, they’ll participate in the Algerian Youth Leadership conference, which is sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

In addition to the Algerian students, ten local high school students will also participate in the program. “I think it’s going to be a very interesting dynamic in exchange between the American students and the Algerian students,” Roces added.

Each Algerian student had to write an essay in English to be considered for the program. One 17 year old boy says in his essay that he looks forward to exchanging ideas and learning about America. He also likes soccer and watches NBA basketball, which he calls “spectacular.” Another 17 year old is excited about the chance to meet people and learn to communicate across cultures.

The students will learn about media and how it fits into society, and each will help produce a three minute mini-documentary. Local families who signed up to host the students will get a chance to learn about Algeria and meet kids who they might not otherwise come in contact with. Be sure to check back on PNN for more about the program after they arrive in Reno.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

PROFILE IN COURAGE: Sen. Joe Heck


On 26 of May 2009, a day after Memorial Day, Nevada Senator Joe Heck Spoke at a Mt. Rose Republican Womens (MRRW) Meeting at Arrowcreek Country Club in Reno, NV. The Senator announced his bid for the Governor's Office and outlined his platform to 'fix' health care and education in Nevada. 5 minutes into his speech he was blasted by a gentleman later described as an "Ultra Conservative" by some of the MRRW members. The ultra consrvative shouted that "WE don't care about health care...WE don't care about education. What WE care about is paying taxes." The ultra conservative then accused Sen. Heck of sounding too much like Obama. Form my table at the dinner and others who rose to speak after the disruption, the majority seemed to be supportive or at least willing to hear what Sen. Heck's proposal was. Sen Heck continued with his speech and his proposal despite the verbal attack. The following are my comments which I sent to Sen. Heck the day after his speech. His response which was recieved via email was this: "we have a great opportunity to grab the message that continues to propel the [Democrats], and use Republican principles to solve the problems facing so many Nevadans. The reason no [Republican] will tackle it is because they are afraid - it is much easier to campaign on a single issue of no new taxes. It takes a lot of work to educate voters, but I have never shied away from hard work! Thanks again and I hope to see you again we are back up north!" I felt that it took a lot of courage for Sen. Heck to take a stand on issues that are at this time not very popular with the core conservatives within the party, and is reflective of the national witch hunt that is ripping the GOP apart.

Dear Sen. Heck,

I wanted to express my appreciation for your words the other day at the MRRW dinner, I found your words encouraging and insightful. I certainly can not speak for everyone there and I would never presume to do so, but I, for one, am happy to hear a Republican candidate offer a "Alternative Option" to the democratic option to the issues of Health Care and Education in our state. I am under the age of 50 and I still work for a living and I have a 19 and 18 year old getting ready for college, and a 14 year old coming up the pike. They are competing not only with graduates from UNLV or UCLA, but with graduates from London, Beijing and Calcutta. As recently as 2004, Berkeley was No. 1 in the production of all Ph.D.’s, including education, the humanities, and the social sciences. Two Chinese universities have moved ahead of the University of California at Berkeley as the top sources of students who go on to earn doctorates at American institutions. Fully half of the top 20 institutions on the list were foreign: a total of seven Chinese institutions, and one each in India, South Korea, and Taiwan. Tsinghua and Peking Universities, and Seoul National University, in South Korea, also topped the list (in that order) of how many of their bachelor’s-degree holders earned natural-science or engineering Ph.D.’s at American institutions in 2006. In two years time, Cornell University was fourth and Berkeley fell to fifth. This trend speaks to a growing concern among American educators and policy makers that China and other Asian nations are likely to produce large numbers of scientists and engineers who will help them out-compete the United States technologically.

When I was working for Governor Guinn in 2000-2005, he was trying to diversify our business and industrial base by luring IT businesses into our state. The response time and time again, was Nevada did not have an educated workforce that could support such industries. That is why Gov. Guinn created the Millennium Scholarship in the first place, to ensure our future generations had the tools to compete in a global market, and now when we are in the midst of an economic collapse, we are talking about dismantling our educational system. To say that our educational system in not broken, is like traveling down a highway at 60 mph with a flat tire and refusing to pull over to fix it. I, for one, do care about education; and I find it refreshing that a Republican is willing to discuss it and offer a valid option.

Secondly, on the matter of health care. Again, I find it refreshing to hear a Republican brave enough to step forward and offer a viable alternative based on private competition and not monolithic bureaucracies. I am a program coordinator at the Northern Nevada International Center, I coordinate professional exchange program for foreign prosecutors, judges, doctors, public officials and business and cultural leaders from around the world to meet with Nevadan counterparts to discuss and exchanges ideas and solutions to common problems. In the 4 years, I have been in this position, I have completed over 50 such programs working with over 150 international visitors. In the last three years we have completed four such programs involving health care professionals and doctors. Half of our state's population is under-insured or uninsured. Under-insured means that 10% of the household's income is spent on out of pocket medical expenses. You are right, access to health care is not the issue, but for many Nevadans, they have to forgo a needed medical procedure, treatment or medication because it's a choice between paying for that or their power bill or buying food for the month or their child's tuition. In addition, I know that what you are proposing works, and there is a successful working model in place in Reno, and it is not a government monolithic bureaucracy. It is a private entity, surprising called "Access to Health Care." It's Executive Director, Sherri Rice, has met with several of our Russian delegations, and components of her program have already been emulated in Russia where socialized health care has collapsed.

Finally, I wanted to also comment on what you said about expanding the Republican message to attract conservative democrats and independents. I believe you commented that as of last week, the Republican party was in a 100,000 vote deficit. Across the nation, it's the same picture. The Washington Post/ABC News poll revealed that only 21% of Americans consider themselves Republicans, while a New York Times poll that came out last month puts the number even lower: 20%. Your opening comments at the dinner reminded me of the words of Sen. Olympia Snowe, who said that "I believe in the traditional tenets of Republican Party: Strong National Defense; Fiscal Responsibility; and Individual Opportunity. I haven't abandoned those principles." The party is shrinking because, from what I feel and what I have observed, we are eating our own. The internal witch hunt going on right now within the party that started with Arlen Specter, threatens the party's long term viability and turn the GOP into America's third party. We are hemorrhaging moderates. This will not be another 1994. The underlying fundamentals today are vastly worse, as we continue to chase out moderates, and powerful leaders like Specter (which gave Obama a fillabuster-proof majority in the Senate), and at the same time the party's coalition is shrinking and we are losing ground with the segments of society that are growing. One in four voters are now racial minorities, and hispanics, the largest block, broke for Obama two to one. 70% of the youth vote went for Obama, and they are swelling by 4.5 million a year. To quote another Republican, Governor Charlie Crist, the GOP has to come up with something new to say other than 'NO.' You have to have a vision for the future and articulate what it is you want to do rather than just knocking the other guy down all the time. As Gov. Huntsman in Utah said we "need to expand our demographic appeal by offering hard hitting, realistic, thoughtful proposals that address the issues that really matter to people, like health care, energy and the economy." When the gentleman stood up and yelled that "WE don't care about health care..." and "WE don't care about education..." I felt like getting up and leaving, but I wanted to hear what you had to say, so I fought the impulse and stayed. I am glad I made that decision. As a disabled veteran wounded in the line of duty, I realize that it is not just bravery under fire or the bravery to make sacrifices, but the bravery to discard the comfort of illusion, to speak plainly rather than just offer comfort, to instruct rather than just reassure, to reveal frustration rather than promise satisfaction. You did exactly that - you spoke plainly about the issues which are frustrating many Nevadans and you offered something other than 'no'; you offered an intelligent, realistic and viable proposal to address health care and education in our state. Thank you, Senator Heck, for your courage to bring these issues to the forefront and taking your time to speak to us.

Monday, May 4, 2009

PROFILE IN COURAGE: UNR STAND: Passing the torch....

The following is a speech I made at the closing meeting of UNR STAND at the Joe Crowley Student Union. It is a student organization at the University of Nevada Reno who works to educate and instruct students and the community on the plight of our fellow men and women in conflict areas through out the world. This was following their first successful fundraiser at the in Carson City. On Saturday, April 25, 2009, UNR STAND held its 1st Annual STAND FOR HUMANITY Benefit Dinner and Art Auction at the Governor's Mansion in Carson City, Nevada. It was a Black Tie Event. The event was held from 6:00pm - 9:00pm. There was about 55 people were in attendance, some traveling all the way from Las Vegas. UNR STAND was able to raise $2,000 for civilian protection initiatives in Darfur, Sudan and eastern Burma. All proceeds from Stand for Humanity will be donated to GI-NET’s Civilian Protection Program, which supports on-the-ground activities that aim to protect civilians at risk of genocidal violence. I wanted to make these comments and address the club's members because of a conversation I had with my parish priest one night over dinner regarding youth in our community and parish.

Voltaire put it simply, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” I am a writer by craft, and I have two manuscripts I am working on and one of them is called The Seven Passions of Gabrielle Emelie, and it is modeled after Voltaire’s Candide. When I read about the warrant for Bashir’s arrest, I pondered what Voltaire would have said of such news. I would presume he would say that “All murders are made accountable and therefore punished, except those who kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” We often mistake technological advances for evolution… Voltaire wrote of the Earthquake and Tsunamis that racked Lisbon in 1755:

UNHAPPY mortals! Dark and mourning earth!
Affrighted gathering of human kind!
Eternal lingering of useless pain!
Come, ye philosophers, who cry, "All’s well,"
And contemplate this ruin of a world.
Behold these shreds and cinders of your race,
This child and mother heaped in common wreck,
These scattered limbs beneath the marble shafts—

When the cyclone hit Burma in May of last year (2008), I wondered, ‘has anything changed?’ Or are we still crying “All’s well,” the tranquil spectators of our brothers’ wreck, unmoved by the repellent dance of death in Rwanda, Darfur, Burma and elsewhere? Would Voltaire say that we are better than what we were? Have we taken care of our garden as Candide called his companions to do at the end of the novel? A friend of mine and I had a rather funny discussion about a mundane thing in church. The act of reaching out and holding hands while you say the Lord’s prayer. Some people have an issue with it, so NOT everyone will hold your hand during the Lord's Prayer or shake your hand when you offer it in peace, and it's damn rare that they will reach across the aisle to the person on the other side. WHEN it does happen, it's always a child pulling the adult across. My friend asked why was I so keen on it and I replied that I am a global person, among other things, the holding hands is big for me as it's a metaphor for the larger problems in our world. Why people in Darfur and Rwanda suffer and die, as we stand idly by and cry "All is well." Why Jews, Christians and Muslims, slaughter each other as they pray to the SAME God, why we don't have national health care, we decry welfare, TANF, Headstart and won't fund education, but we'll bail out GM, Wall Street and the Banks. If good God fearing, Republican voting, Fox news watching, Christians won't hold hands with the same God fearing, Republican voting, Fox news watching Christians in THEIR own Church, maybe that ought to say something about who we are; who we’ve become. Like in Les Miz, "Look down and show some mercy if you can - Look down, look down, upon your fellow man!" Is it really so hard, so difficult to pull your hand out of your pocket and extend it to the person standing next to you. To hold their hand in prayer to OUR God, to help them up off the street, to hand them a meal when they are hungry, to help them put on a jacket when it's cold…to put your hand around them when they need to be comforted. Like Candide said, to care for our own garden. What y’all do here is exactly that – you stretch out your arm and extend a helping hand to someone in need.

Philip Ernest Schoenberg, a Kennedy confidant and family friend, once published 13 key lessons on leadership from John Kennedy’s presidency. Those are: Set High Goals by Sharing a Vision, Be Independent, Set an Example by Becoming a Role Model, Be a Life Long Learner, Doing the Little Things Lead to the Big Things, Be a Great Communicator, Take responsibility, Demand excellence from others, Learn From Failures and Mistakes, Have the Courage of Your convictions by Believing in Yourself, Be a Team Leader, Show Compassion, and Lesson No. 13: Be Lucky. These are lessons and goals that I believe this organization and its members fully embody in not only its rhetoric but in its actions. Y’all don’t just talk the talk; y’all walk the walk. Jack Kennedy’s brother, Bobby, delivered a speech in March of 1968, two months before his own assassination, {Read Excerpt}

I often use another quote from Robert Kennedy who said it is not just bravery under fire or the bravery to make sacrifices, but the bravery to discard the comfort of illusion, to do away with false hopes and alluring promises. It takes courage in a crisis to speak plainly when many seek comfort; Courage to educate and instruct in times of difficulty when others want reassurance; courage to reveal frustration when faced with uncertainty rather than promise satisfaction. I feel sincerely that men and women such as yourselves…Carolina, Jenna and Kaitlyn are such examples of courage in our society. If I did not or have not communicated that effectively to each of you, I'd like to do so now. I remember the first time that I read Kennedy's book, Profiles in Courage. Jack Kennedy, who had lived a heroic life, had the right to write a book about other heroes. He wrote about United States Senators who had supported unpopular causes and risked their careers. The other day, Carolina posted an article on Facebook that told the story of five members of Congress and three activists who were arrested on civil disobedience charges in front of the Sudanese Embassy on Monday for protesting "crimes against humanity" in Darfur. The lawmakers -- Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma), John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Donna Edwards (D-Md.) -- were handcuffed by Secret Service officers after crossing the tape and taken to jail by local police officers. These men and women, as well as all of you here today can be counted among those listed by Kennedy earlier. Yours is also a profile in courage; a reminder to our community, our country and our world what it means to be an American. I remain steadfast in my belief that this is a great nation and a great people. Any who seek to comfort rather than speak plainly, reassure rather than instruct, promise satisfaction rather than reveal frustration; they deny that greatness and drain that strength. Kennedy once said that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans— born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. Half a century after they were uttered, those words still ring true. Over the past two decades, that torch has weathered some storms, and in some cases have wavered and dimmed. Yet another generation, your generation, moves it forward, to light the future and to lead the way. During the last election, CS Monitor quoted a young Las Vegas resident who said "It's my future… What I really don't understand is why there aren't more young people here because ... we are the ones who are going to have to live with the problems of the future." The test of this new generation is not about who will take blame for the failures of the past; but who will accept responsibility for our future. That is how, we as a people as a nation… it is the only way we can move forward.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Russians from Orenburg implement new ideas from Reno


Orenburg, Russia. In the summer of 2008, a delegation of Russian doctors and social workers traveled to Reno, Nevada, for training in community-based health and social services as part of a Community Connections program under USAID. The delegation was in Reno to exchange ideas and best practices in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases and specifically AIDS/HIV. Two of the participants, Dr. Oksana Porshina and Alfia Arkhipova, took their lessons to heart. Both ladies were high lighted by USAID as living "success stories."

Ms. Arkhipova, Director of the Gai City Administration’s Office for Social Support of Families and Children, developed the program to provide children and their parents the psychological, social and medical support they need to start school. The program also offers assistance in coping with the myriad challenges of living with HIV. Born of Ms. Arkhipava’s experience during the Community Connections exchange, the one-year initiative, First Time First Grade, was first discussed at a meeting with the regional Social Protection Department, medical professionals and members of the Commission on Youth Issues and Protection of the Rights of Minors, who enthusiastically endorsed the project. First Time First Grade subsequently attracted partners from the Social Protection Department, the Children’s Hospital and the City Department of Education. Ms. Arkhipova believes her experiences in the US will enable her to continue helping children with HIV integrate into society.

Dr. Porshina’s Community Connections exchange experience in Reno, NV has greatly enhanced her work with commercial sex workers in Orenburg by demonstrating practical methods for supporting uninsured patients. As Director of the Primary Prevention Department at the Orenburg State Clinic for Skin and Venereal Diseases, Ms. Porshina incorporated elements of a program run by US hospitals and health centers into activities to prevent the spread of HIV and STDs among commercial sex workers. In Reno, Dr. Porshina met the Executive Director, Ms. Sherri Rice of the Access to Healthcare Network which provides medical services at a reduced cost to uninsured patients. Impressed by the network, Ms. Porshina determined to provide medical services at her clinic for thirty percent of the standard price-- on condition of cash payment. To receive the same services free of charge, the clinic stipulates only that the patient submit legal documentation of identity, something that prior to the program many patients were reluctant to do. When the service was initially offered, held back by concern about privacy, few took advantage of the services, but now five or six patients a week seek help of the clinic’s physicians.

Ms. Porshina notes that the most valuable result of incorporating the new methods is that commercial sex workers have begun to take more responsibility for their health. Doctor appointments ceased being one-time occurrences but rather included additional appointments and attempts to adhere to the medical worker’s prescriptions.

These articles were originally published in the USAID's website and republished by Joaquin Rafael Roces for the NNIC in their Newsletter.


Community Connections: From Orenburg to Reno


Reno, NV - 10 doctors, social workers and NGO specialists traveled to Reno and stayed with home hosts from June 26 to July 17. They arrived in Reno under a Community Connections program sponsored by USAID. They were here to exchange ideas and best practices in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases and specifically AIDS/HIV.

Each delegate was hosted by a host family in the Reno-Sparks area. 10 families opened their homes to the Russian visitors and shared their lives and routines. The three week program included professional appointments with local resources such as the HOPES Clinic, the AIDS Foundation and the HAWC Homeless Outreach Clinic. Additionally, they met rural service providers in Schurz and Virginia City to exchange ideas and best practices in regard to trying to deliver health care services to rural communities. In Schurz, NV, they met with the director of the Indian Health Services regional clinic on the Walker River Indian Reservation. Additionally, another component of their program was to learn about delivering services to minority populations and the delegation also met with Victoria Skocdopole, Health Services Manager for Nevada Urban Indians, as well as Cecilia Khan, Social Worker for the Nevada Hispanic Services. At the Reno Sparks Gospel Mission, the delegates learned about the various medical and social health care and outreach that the mission provides for Reno’s growing homeless population. After the presentation, the Russian visitors volunteered and helped prepare the evening meal as well as helped serve Reno’s neediest population.

As a part of their cultural component of their program, the visitors visited the Native American Cultural Center and Museum in Pyramid Lake. There, the visitors met with Ben Aleck , Director and Curator of the Museum and Cultural Center. Many of the visitors had plenty of questions regarding the current state of US-Indian relationship and limited sovereignty that Native Americans now practice within the reservation system. They also discussed with Mr. Aleck the ancient history of the tribes in Nevada, archeological finds around the lake area, and current health issues facing Native Americans.

The visitors also visited several correctional facilities to meet with medical staff within the facilities. They visited the Washoe County Detention facility in Reno as well as the Nevada State Prison and the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City. The tours and presentation was arranged by William Donat , warden for the Nevada State Prison. At the Washoe County Detention Facility, Dep. Janet Peard arranged for a tour of the Medical Facility at the Parr Blvd Detention Facility and met with the Medical Service Supervisor, Gale Singletary. The Nevada State Prison, the countries oldest operating Prison, the visitors also toured their medical facility as well as several of the Prison Industrial Sites. The Nevada State Prison was opened in 1862 as a territorial prison and predates the infamous Alcatraz and Nevada’s own statehood. The Northern Nevada Correctional Center, the visitors toured and met with clinical and psychological staff at the Regional Medical Facility for the entire Nevada Department of Prisons facilities in Northern Nevada. There the visitors toured the Clinical, Dental and Psychological wings of the facility.

This article was written by Joaquin Rafael Roces and was originally published in the NNIC's August 2008 Newsletter.