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Kazakhstan leaders examine agricultural diversification in South Dakota

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY - Six young leaders from Kazakhstan participating in the Open World Program will spend June 19-21 in South Dakota examining agricultural diversification. The South Dakota World Affairs Council is hosting the delegation.

While in South Dakota, the delegates will have a full week visiting places such as Oak Lake and Dakota Lakes Field Stations as well as sustainable farming sites, ethanol and biofuel plants, a grain elevator, dairy operations, startup companies and agricultural and children’s museums with presentations at each site made by agricultural researchers and experts.

The delegates will make public presentations of their work in Room 103 of the SDSU Northern Plains Biostress Lab at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27.

“We have hosted similar Open World groups from Russia during the past two summers and consider it to be one of the most relevant and important efforts done by the South Dakota World Affairs Council to educate citizens on the importance of being a global citizen,” said Nels Granholm, emeritus coordinator of SDSU Global Studies and current chair of SDWAC. “The exchange demonstrates the importance of knowing about other people and cultures in the world. We have much to learn from them.”

Homestays with local citizens in the Brookings area will allow the delegates to experience American family life. While staying with host families, they will take part in several cultural and community activities.

The visiting delegates include Aizhan Taueshovna Akymbekova, agriculture consultant in the office of the president of the Republic of Kazakhstan; Galiya Kizatovna Baybolatova, manager of an international science and technology collaboration; Zhalgasbek Magauinovich Kanapin, chief agronomist at an 8,000 hectare crop farm; Yuliya Nikolayevna Shilina, research associate with the East Kazkhstan Science and Research Institute of Agriculture; and Gulnaz Rishatovna Turabayeva, senior research associate with EKSRIA. Almaz Sandybayev, with Girne American University, an institution on three continents based in North Cyprus, Turkey, will travel with them as a facilitator. Irina Goubanova, a translator from Sioux Falls, will be the language interpreter throughout scheduled site visits.

The Open World Leadership Center has awarded a grant to FHI 360, a nonprofit human development organization based in Durham, N.C., to administer this and similar exchanges across the United States in 2013.

The Open World Program is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress designed to build mutual understanding between the United States and Eurasia. More than 19,000 Open World participants have been hosted in all 50 U.S. states since the program’s inception in 1999. Delegates range from members of parliament to mayors, from innovative nonprofit directors to experienced journalists, and from political party activists to regional administrators.

SDWAC is one of a network of nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots groups dedicated to educating and engaging the public on critical global issues. A governing board of 25 citizens sets policy, programs and activities for the organization.