On July 26, Governor Hassan met with two Russian visitors, Daria Poskannaia and Vitalina Velikotskaya, both from the city of Khabarovsk in the far eastern part of Russia, near the Chinese boarder. Poskannaia and Velikotskaya are in the United States as participants in the Experience America Program/Future Leaders of Russia Program, organized and operated by the New England Language Center in Rochester and now celebrating its nineteenth year of operation. This year, the focus of the program was on journalism, freedom of the press, and the constitutional right of free speech. Both of this year’s program participants were solid students and worked hard to improve their English during their stay. Marina Forbes, director of international programs at the center, accompanied Poskannaia and Velikotskaya, whose meeting with Governor Hassan was the culmination of their 30-day program, during which they had the opportunity to learn first hand about the American way of life. Their goal was to return to Russia with a deeper awareness of American values, traditions and institutions. The program provided the students with exposure to a wide range of American businesses, institutions, agencies, local politicians, government officials, journalists, editors, business owners, service providers and educators.
Their program has also included visits to Boston and New York City. The students’ mission was to gather information about the life, culture, business practices and political structures in the United States and to present their experiences, observations and impressions of America to the faculty, staff and students at their public school in Khabarovsk.
During their conversation with the governor, Poskannaia and Velikotskaya described their native city and their life as high school students in Russia. They asked the governor what she liked most about her job, and she replied that she enjoyed having the opportunity to solve problems one step at a time and to have a real impact on making people’s lives better. They also asked the governor who were her role models when she was their age. Her answer was President Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy, President Johnson, and Billie Jean King, who was the first female athlete to demand equal pay for women players. They asked the governor what made her interested in politics, and the answer was her family. They asked if the state were given an unexpected grant of ten million dollars and she could not give this money back to the New Hampshire taxpayers, what would she do with this money. Governor Hassan replied that taking into consideration the amount of the money she would recommend that the New Hampshire legislature use this money to retrain people who lost their jobs or to assist the elderly with transportation services.
For more information about the Future Leaders of Russia Program or the New England Language Center, contact Marina Forbes at 332-2255 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.