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Vladimirskie vedomosti
June 7, 1994, p. 5

"We Hope We Haven't Come Here to Reinvent the Bicycle"
About the Activities at the American Home in Vladimir

By V. Tikhomirova
Translated by Ron Pope

This past year they set up two excellent children's playgrounds, one at an orphanage and one at the boarding school for deaf children. [ They assisted with] the distribution to all the city's hospitals of the third container of humanitarian medical assistance through the sister cities committee. This time responsibility for all the arrangements for the shipping and registration of the equipment was taken directly by the pharmacists Dan Wilson and Bill Martin. [See note below--R.P.] And in October Vladimir doctors are prepared to meet with a delegation of American medical specialists.

What else is there in the future plans of the American Home? There is the development of the tourist business in Vladimir. In part, this will include the organization of excursions to our city with various interesting programs. For this purpose there will soon be a representative in Moscow. A brochure has already been published for the first visitors. It acquaints them not only with the history, but also the cultural importance of Vladimir. "We hope we have not come here to reinvent the bicycle" professor [Pope] said smiling. He had in mind the many years of experience we have had with tourism. The new tourist operation had already taken its first steps. Visiting the city are the first groups. [A Law & Justice group was in Vladimir at this time; two other groups had visited the previous year.--R.P.]

They don't talk about problems at the American Home. Instead they seriously and enthusiastically work. In Vladimir they have recently set up a construction company as a branch of the firm Serendipity. The first fruits of the activities of this organization have been the installation of suspended ceilings from the [American] firm Armstrong in the administrative offices of the village of Yurevets. They are also finishing work at the Vladbusinessbank offices [in Vladimir]. In line is work at a school which is under construction and for a number of private clients. They are awaiting the near term arrival of still another container of finishing materials; in it will be decorative panels, doors, windows, and other such items. The firm also plans on importing computers, plumbing fixtures, and other similar items.

The Americans are also very much interested in the development of our system of civil order. Not long ago staff members from the [Vladimir] MVD School [i.e., Police Academy--R.P.] left for training at the Police Training Institute in Illinois. "We can see what the situation is like now in Russia. Your militia has to give serious attention to the question of crime. We have a great deal of experience in this area, and we hope that borrowing from that experience you will be able to solve a part of your problems." It is not the intention of the American police to delay. They are already planning, possibly this year, to invite 10 people from our [militia] school to gain practical experience there.

Currently, the American Home is a licensed educational center where 250 Vladimirites are studying English. Presenting the lessons are excellent specialists from all pedagogical areas. [At least a slight exaggeration.--R.P.] The instructional program they have worked out includes several levels to meet the needs of the participants based on their starting knowledge [of the language]. And they are maintaining the truly low cost of the instruction for the benefit of the growing stream of those who want to obtain an excellent knowledge of the language. Two thousand rubles an academic hour--on such a low price stands this unusual cultural center, and by this underscores its educational activities.

The establishment of the American Home in Vladimir--the first in our region--is a striking example of the collapse of the walls of mistrust that have stood for many decades between our two cultures. Today, this organization is the first one hundred percent foreign investment to successfully maintain its existence in our difficult economic conditions. Despite the fact that the largest share of their profits are confiscated by various taxes, they are not dejected but proceed to work at their own pace. "We aren't working for money. We are interested in your culture, traditions, and the Russian people. And we hope that our collaboration will continue to develop and strengthen in all areas."


Note: Bill Martin is a pharmacist. Dan Wilson is a medical technology specialist. With financial assistance from the Sister Cities Association of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, the two of them played the major role in collecting the medications and other medical materials shipped in this container. Serendipity's American Home staff handled the difficult task of getting the container cleared through Russian Customs and assisted Bill and Dan with distribution to area hospitals.

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