The following is a message from my friend and mentor Sharon Tennison, co-founder and head of Center for Citizen Initiatives. Sharon has been leading delegations of U.S. citizens to Russia since the 1980’s. She has an extensive network of Russian friends and colleagues all over the country and escorted me on my very first trip to the country in 2015.
Like many of us, Sharon recognizes that U.S.-Russia relations have reached a dangerously low point. In response, Sharon has revived her delegations of citizen diplomacy over the past couple of years. This September, she is organizing one of her most ambitious ever – 100 Americans. Below is more information from Sharon about this trip. Please consider participating in this important work or pass this on to someone else who may be interested. Thanks. – Natylie
…. In my 35 years of traveling throughout Russia, I have never before witnessed such a vast gap between what the average American ‘believes’ about Russia and Russia’s reality on the ground today.
CCI’s earlier Russia travelers describe their trips as life-changing … possibly because there’s nothing so relieving as “traveling to meet the enemy” and finding no enemies on arrival. We find differences, yes, different histories, different cultural norms and many other differences, but when understood, none of these are destructive to Americans.
Citizen diplomacy is finally being discussed as a viable pursuit by officials in the U.S. and in Russia today. THIS IS NEW. No doubt this is due to failed official diplomacy and nuclear treaties being scrapped in the very recent past. The current situation is extremely dangerous since we and Russia have nuclear weapons on high alert and ready to fire at each other. One accidental launch of a missile could bring a volley of returning missiles that would destroy both countries and likely the world within a short time. How can our military brass, congress members and media talk so glibly about nuclear war? It’s horrifying! How to pull our countries back from the brink of nuclear war? Let us educate ourselves ASAP regarding Russia with our own eyes and ears. Let us ask questions, listen, ponder … and educate others as rapidly as possible….
Consider traveling with us on this “one-of-a-kind” trip. It will be CCI’s most intensive diplomacy effort ever. Travelers will meet with and question a dozen Russian Experts in Moscow including Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Pozner. The meetings are usually two-hour sessions. Our two videographers will capture the Expert meetings and much of the entire trip. Following Moscow meetings, we travel in triads to 30 regional cities to explore average Russian citizens’ interests, their thoughts and concerns, and how they carry out their lives far from the centers of power. We will share similar topics with them. Following these visits we reconvene in St. Petersburg where we will spend the first full day listening to and learning from fellow travelers’ experiences in their regional cities. YouTube videos, articles and stats will result from this data dump. With our important work completed, we will enjoy St. Petersburg’s unparalleled classical culture and meet with numerous CCI alumni from our former business management training programs. During these and regional traveling days we will have had face-to-face discussions with thousands of Russians across 10 time zones. We need more Americans to travel on this CCI fact-finding diplomatic mission….
For more trip details please email us. Many thanks!
Click here to see CCI’s official trip flyer.
President and Founder (1983 – to present)
Center for Citizen Initiatives
sharon [at] ccisf.org