Six Soviet citizens arrived in Salt Lake City Friday night to participate in a goodwill-sharing experience - where Soviet citizens will spend time living in an American home and American citizens will later pay a reciprocal visit to the Soviet Union. Another Soviet woman participating in the program arrived on Tuesday.
"I hope that some Americans will come to our place in Moscow, and I will be glad to welcome them," said Oxana Pedan, an 18-year-old student participating in the program.Organizer Dick Sherwood, a member of Utah-based "Senior Exchanges - Americans and Soviets," calls the program people-to-people diplomacy.
Unlike other programs in which foreign-exchange visitors live in a hotel room and socialize only at highly structured outings, the SEAS program tries to put its exchange visitors in real-life situations where conversation can be relaxed and the interchange honest and frank. Three of the visitors will be going to San Diego to live in a condominium, and the others will be touring Utah's national parks.
"The experience is the important part. We want to give them the experience of sharing," Sherwood said.
Sherwood said the ultimate goal is for both guests and hosts to talk about more than the weather, delving into the differences between their societies - pro and con on both sides.
Sherwood and his wife visited the Soviet Union last year. In the program, the hosts are responsible for all expenses incurred during the visit, while the guests are responsible only for air fare. The Soviet visitors will stay in Utah one or two months - depending on their obligations back home.
Sherwood said 219 Soviets have signed up to participate in the program over the next three years. Anyone interested in participating in the program should contact Sherwood at 278-6640.