S.D. World Affairs Council to host Russian delegation


BROOKINGS – The South Dakota World Affairs Council will host five Russian entrepreneurs in Brookings Friday to Feb. 22. The delegation is sponsored by the Open World Leadership Center, an agency of the U.S. Congress, and will be accompanied by a bicultural facilitator and an interpreter.

Brookings hosted Russian Open World delegations in 2011 and 2012, a Kazakhstan delegation in 2013 and a Ukrainian delegation in 2015 and 2017.

“We were selected to host the Russian delegation this year with a theme of Innovation and Economic Development through a competitive application process. Unquestionably, our application was strengthened by the fact that SDSU and Brookings have teamed together so well in research, innovation and local economic development,” said Bob Burns, the SDWAC chair.

The individuals will have policy meetings with South Dakota members of Congress and/or staff before coming to Brookings. When in South Dakota, the delegates will explore best practices for business and innovation. Delegates will meet business, nonprofit and academic leaders from the Brookings area and South Dakota State University.

Additional activities include a series of presentations and exchanges on work of city and county government in fostering economic activity, on support for innovation in engineering, agriculture and business through SDSU research and outreach, and on private and government funding for entrepreneurial ventures.

The delegates will stay in the homes of local residents, who will arrange family and cultural activities to experience life in small-town, rural America. 

More than 29,000 current and future leaders from post-Soviet era countries have participated in the Open World program. Open World offers one of the most effective U.S. exchange programs to promote mutually beneficial options for depolarized engagement between future national leaders. It is a unique but no less powerful tool for Congress to engage legislatures in critical regions of the world.

The public has three opportunities to meet the guests and learn from and about these Russian business leaders. Attendees will observe the process of interpretation that is used when participants do not speak the same languages.

On Feb. 19 from 9-10 a.m., the Open World delegates will make a presentation at 1 Million Cups at Café Coteau at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota. 1 Million Cups is a weekly public gathering of local entrepreneurs and businesspersons who share their business ambitions and actions for the purpose of receiving constructive feedback.

At 7 p.m. that day, SDWAC members and guests are invited to a one-hour presentation by the Russian Open World Delegation at the Wooden Legs Brewing Company in downtown Brookings.

As part of the SDSU Office of International Affairs’ All Things International series, the delegates will present at 4 p.m. Feb. 20 in the University Student Union’s Campanile Room.

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