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U.S. Department of State
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Media Note
September 29, 2000

Moldovan Farmers to Learn from Minneapolis Area:
Community Connections at Work

Ten farmers from the autonomous region of Gagauzia in the Republic of Moldova arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota on September 12 to spend three weeks working in the area and living with local American families. The professionals are participants in the U.S. Department of State's 2000/2001 Community Connections program, which provides home stay-based, three-to-five-week practical training opportunities in the U.S. for entrepreneurs, local government officials, legal professionals, non-governmental organization leaders and other professionals from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Kazakhstan. Local community host organizations arrange internships for participants based on interests and experience. The companies providing internships range from small, family-run enterprises to major, multi-national "Fortune 500" corporations.

During 2000 and 2001, Community Connections will host more than 1700 participants from the former Soviet Union. Since the program started in 1994, more than 7,000 professionals from these countries have participated in this unique program.

"Community Connections offers participants exposure to the day-to-day functioning of a free market system," said Dr. William B. Bader, Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs. "The program creates important, lasting links between U.S. and NIS regions and communities and encourages public-private partnerships in the NIS by involving participants from both sectors. In terms of its long-term service to international stability and our nation's interest, Community Connections is — as are other State Department exchange programs — pure gold."

The Community Connections program is managed by the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which awarded a grant to the CONNECT U.S. RUSSIA to host the Moldovan group in Minneapolis. (Contact: Susan Hartman, CONNECT U.S. RUSSIA, phone (612) 871-5722 or fax (612) 871-5903.)

The FREEDOM Support Act provides funding for Community Connections. Grants are awarded to community-based, non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations and cover expenses such as participant airfare, modest per diem for participants during their U.S. stay, administrative expenses necessary for program operations, and local transportation during the program. Nearly all of the funds awarded to local community organizations are spent in the local community.

Recruitment for Community Connections, carried out in the NIS countries by U.S. not-for- profit organizations with representation in those countries, is an open merit-based competition. Candidates must successfully complete a three-stage selection process including completion of an application, interviews, and selection by the local U.S. host community.

For additional information or to arrange coverage, contact:

Catherine Stearns
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Phone: (202) 619-5053
E-mail: cstearns@pd.state.gov

The Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs fosters mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through international educational and training programs. The bureau does so by promoting personal, professional, and institutional ties between private citizens and organizations in the United States and abroad, as well as by presenting U.S. history, society, art, and culture in all of its diversity to overseas audiences. To learn more, see our website at http://exchanges.state.gov. The Community Connections website is at http://exchanges.state.gov/education/citizens/comcon.

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