A group of high school students from the Salt Lake and Ogden areas will be among the first Utahns to exchange greetings with the citizens of Chernovtsy, Ukraine, USSR, Salt Lake City's newly proclaimed Soviet sister city.
Salt Lake City Mayor Palmer DePaulis is traveling to the Soviet Union this week to establish the sister city relationship with officials in Chernovtsy, a city of 300,000 located 25 miles north of the Romanian border. It will become Salt Lake's fifth sister city.As part of the Student Ambassador Program, a total of 51 students in two groups will travel to Moscow and then visit five additional Soviet cities. The first group, leaving June 22, has Chernovtsy on its itinerary.
"I'm so excited to see that one of the cities is a sister city," said Anne Dolowitz. "It will be much more meaningful to the students that way." Dolowitz's daughter Annetta, 17, a senior at Judge Memorial High School, will be traveling with the students.
The group will begin their tour in Moscow and travel to Odessa on the east coast of the Black Sea, visiting Chernovtsy on the way. The second group, leaving July 10, will also begin in Moscow, but follow a northwestern route ending in Sochi on the western coast of the Black Sea.
The Student Ambassador Program is part of People to People, a non-profit organization sponsored by the Eisenhower Foundation. Carolyn Burbidge, one of five chaperons scheduled to accompany the students, said Soviet officials who came to the U.S. earlier this year "were so excited (by the existing program) they wanted more students to come. "They took the idea home and presented it to the people in their cities. The people were so excited they offered to house them in their own homes."
Essays, letters of recommendation, an intense interest in Soviet affairs and a personal interview were required from the 400 students originally wishing to be part of the program, Dolowitz said. Many of the students chosen have taken advanced placement history classes.
"They had to be good academically, but they didn't need a 4.0 grade point average to be chosen," Burbidge said. "We were really looking for those who typify American youth."
The students will travel to Washington, D.C., for a briefing with the State Department and will then fly directly to Moscow. Activities will include meeting with Soviet mayors and government leaders, visiting a collective farm and university, attending an art event and socializing with Soviet youth.