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Russian career women finding common ground

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2003   B5

Russian career women finding common ground

By Ryan Konig The Arizona Republic

A delegation of Russian ca­reer women arrived in east Mesa recently to learn more about American democracy, enterprise, education, public finance and library science.

First stop: the mall.

What could be more Ameri­can than gathering for a group photo in front of a 20-foot Christmas tree at Super­stition Springs Center, on dis­play long before Thanksgiv­ing, next to an automated teller machine and a food court featuring entrees from other countries?

Ten women are taking part in the Open World Program of the Library of Congress, hosted by the East Valley chapter of the American As­sociation of University Wom­en.

They hail from all over Rus­sia, from Moscow, on the European side, to Vladivos­tok, on the other side of the Asian continent. They are staying with host families, most of whom reside in Lei­sure World.

This is the first Russian del­egation to visit Arizona as part of the program, said Mar­vel Bongart, an East Valley

"Our malls, at least in the Moscow area, are similar. We even have a Ruby Tuesday's."

Oksana Borisovna Anistratenko

Visiting Russian career woman

AAUW coordinator.

The mall, which they vis­ited Sunday, wasn't much of a culture shock.

"Our malls, at least in the Moscow area, are similar," said Oksana Borisovna Anis­tratenko, a facilitator for the program.

"We even have a Ruby Tues­day's," she said, like the one at Superstition Springs Center.

The women are successful public and private profession­als in Russia.

"After Perestroika, there have been many opportuni­ties for women," Nadezhda Nikolayevna Chernova said, through an interpreter, of the social and economic restruc­turing program that began in the 1980s.

"I am a living example of this."

Chernova earned advanced degrees in engineering and economics, and holds a gov­ernment position in Tomsk similar to that of lieutenant governor in some U.S. states.

Another example: Larisa Sergeyevna Budnikova was a manager at a Coca-Cola bot­tling plant in Vladivostok. She now is starting an agency to represent local artists to gal­leries worldwide. One client currently has a show in Port­land, Ore.

The women will begin a weeklong tour that includes three public schools, the State Capitol, a Mesa City Council meeting, a meeting with county schools Superintend­ent Sandra Dowling, the Grand Canyon, libraries, mu­seums, and a little more shop­ping.

Back at the mall, Olga Iva-novna Kolobova had a con­summate American experi­ence: She got lost in a mall.

A customer-service repre­sentative at JCPenney re­hearsed the name four times before paging.

"It's spelled easier than it sounds," she said.

Kolobova was later recov­ered in the shoe department, by Jean Hagen, one of the pro­gram's hosts.

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