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League of Women Voters on the Move
July 23, 2008

Arguedas (standing third from left) with Open World alumnae and LWV staff at the office of the League of Women Voters of St. Petersburg. Also pictured, recent Open World alumnae Inna Kuznetsova (lower right), Valentina Revkova (in red coat), Tatiana Dorutina (second from left), President of the LWV of St. Petersburg, Tatiana Lepiskaya (in yellow sweater), and Natalia Manohina (lower left). Also pictured are the interpreter (far right) and an LWV staffer (far left).
RUSSIA and AZERBAIJAN - League of Women Voters’ Deputy Executive Director and Senior Director of Global Democracy Programs, Zaida Arguedas, traveled to Russia and Azerbaijan between April 22 and May 5, 2008 to meet the League’s partners and some of the Open World alumni who have been hosted by 15 local and state Leagues since the LWV began hosting for Open World in 2005.

The trip began in St. Petersburg, where Arguedas met at the office of the League of Women Voters of St. Petersburg with Open World alumnae Inna Kuznetsova, who had just returned from her March 2008 Open World program hosted by Magee Womencare International, Valentina Revkova, who was hosted by Vital Voices in 2002, and Natalya Pisareva, who was hosted by the League of Oklahoma in 2006. Alla Feofanova, a 2005 Open World participant hosted by the League of Lake Forest, IL, also met with Arguedas at a separate meeting. Feofanova will be graduating this summer with a Ph.D. in social services.

Feofanova stated that “the analysis of the information obtained from our American colleagues has helped me to reconsider my approach and the tools that I use in my professional activities. My recent suggestions regarding a more rational use of not only our working hours, but also of the work space that I am sharing with my colleagues has been fully adopted, which testified to our desire for change. This has enabled us to increase efficiency and very quickly raise the overall level of interaction and the service that we provide to our customers.”

Arguedas then traveled to Vyborg, three hours north of St. Petersburg, to meet with Anita Ustinova, President of the League of Women Voters of Vyborg, and with Irina Torova, an Open World alumnae who traveled in 2000 who currently chairs the who heads the budget department of the local government.

In Moscow, Arguedas met at the office of American Councils with Stanislav Kislav, hosted by the League of Calvert County, MD, and Tatiana Gubina, hosted by the League of Oak Park, IL. Interpreting at the meeting were Petr Kovalenko, who has was a facilitator for League Open World delegations visiting Duluth, MN and McLean, IL, and Oksana Amstralenko who facilitated a League Open World delegation in Oneonta, NY. She also met with Open World Moscow-based staff Alex Khilkov and Yelena Yefremova, as well as other embassy staff.

In Baku, Azerbaijan, Arguedas met with Shane Austin and Galib Abbaszadeh of American Councils and with the directors of the organizations that nominate Azerbaijanis for participation in the Open World Program. In addition, Arguedas met with four local partners of the League of Women Voters: the Association for the Protection of Women's Rights; Women for Development of Municipalities; Solidarity Among Women, and the Women’s Bar Association. Arguedas made a presentation about the League and about, the League's site for all election and election related information for voters, at the U.S. Embassy’s American Center at the invitation of its director, Shahla Khudiyeva.

Arguedas met with seven out of the eight participants who were hosted in April 2008 by the Leagues of Baltimore, MD and Springfield, MO. The eighth participant could not attend the meeting because his NGO, the Election Monitoring Center, was having problems with its registration/legal status. The group brainstormed ideas for possible joint projects and future partnerships. Two ideas for follow up by the Baltimore alumni, are the potential for host family reciprocal travel and a partnership with Towson University, College of Liberal Arts, Women’s Studies.

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