Ukrainian Leaders To Examine Youth Policy in the Rice Lake Area

By Barb Lang

The University of Wisconsin-Barron County will host a delegation of five leaders from Ukraine October 24-November 1 as part of a recent grant from the Open World Leadership program. 

 While in northwest Wisconsin, the delegates will meet with leaders from several local agencies such as Barron County Restorative Justice Program, Workforce Resource/Opportunity Center, and the Boys and Girls Club of Barron County to discuss and compare the many challenges of youth in the U.S. and Ukraine.  The group will visit Rice Lake Municipal Judge Eric Kasper at the Rice Lake City Hall to discuss the justice system and juvenile issues. 

On October 30, delegates will give a public presentation at UW-Barron County’s Thursday at the U Lecture Series about the political situation in Ukraine and the challenges to youth in particular since becoming an independent nation in 1991. Very much interested in collaboration between government and civics groups, the delegates will speak with civics groups in the area and local legislators as well.

Dr. Dean Yohnk, Dean and CEO of UW-Barron County, authored the grant in conjunction with a committee working on international events on campus. “This opportunity to partner with the Open World Leadership program to bring delegates from the Ukraine to Barron County provides the region and the campus with incredible educational and cultural exchange experiences,” explained Yohnk.    “As a campus we are honored to assist in facilitating international conversations and dialogues focused on critical issues related to educational access and social justice programs for youth from diverse backgrounds.”

The visiting delegation includes five Non-Government Organization representatives working on youth projects as well as a facilitator from Ukraine and a translator. All under 35 years of age, they will make a brief stop in Washington D.C. before coming to Rice Lake, where they will stay with local families and also take part in several cultural and community activities. 

A support agency of the United States Congress, the Open World program is designed to enhance understanding and capabilities for cooperation between the United States and the countries of Eurasia by developing a network of leaders in the region who have gained significant, firsthand exposure to America’s democratic, accountable government and free-market system.  The Open World program works to link Members of Congress to Eurasian leaders and is an instrument for Americans engaged in citizen diplomacy.

Since its founding by Congress in 1999, the Open World program has enabled nearly 19,000 current and future Eurasian leaders to experience American democracy, civil society and community life; work with their American counterparts; stay in American homes; and gain new ideas and inspiration for implementing change back home.  More than 7,100 American host families and their communities in all 50 states have partnered with Congress and the Open World Leadership Center to make this ambitious public diplomacy effort possible.  The Open World program currently operates exchanges for political and civic leaders from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

For more information on the Open World program, please visit Please contact Lee Friederich, UW-Barron County International Programs Coordinator, at for further information about the visit.



Lee Friederich