By Jim Misunas
LARNED -- The Larned Rotary Club will welcome five Russian business leaders to town Monday for a brief tour of the Fort Larned National Historic Site.
Larned Rotary Club Secretary Merlene Baird, past Rotary Club president, said the group will travel from Pratt to Fort Larned for a tour at 2:30 p.m. Monday. The Russians will finish the day at Kinsley for an evening presentation about Russia.
“The Larned Rotary Club has been preparing for this welcome for the past several months,” Baird said. “It will be an enjoyable experience welcoming them to Fort Larned.”
Four of the Russians are women business leaders who range from age 28 to 42. Their 30-day tour of the U.S. goes until Oct. 1. The four women visited the Kansas State Fair Sept. 11 in Hutchinson.
“It is a little unusual that women are a part of the tour, but the fact we have Russian women is wonderful,” Baird said.
The Russian group features:
• Svetlana Chelnokova, Russian team leader, tourism business owner, Cherepovets, Russia.
• Svetlana Bakunina; brokering and marketing employee, Yaroslavl.
• Alexey Karmanov, psychiatrist, Ivanovo.
• Irina Kiseleva, English teacher; Cherepovets.
• Anna Medvedeva, tourism employee, Moscow.
Baird and her husband traveled on a farm-related tour to Moscow, Russia in 1988. They spent two weeks visiting Russian farming operations.
“That came at a time when the Russians did not think Americans liked them,” Baird said. “It was a neat trip. I remember they loved talking to us because they all wanted to practice their English. They were so nice to all of us it was a enjoyable trip.”
The Rotary international business association welcomes business leaders who are generally no older than 40 years old. Larned’s Keith Mull, Kent Converse and Charles Scheurmann joined Baird on a visit to see the Russians Sunday in Wichita.
“The Russians enjoy a good command of the English language,” Baird said.
The purpose of a Rotary Group Study Exchange is to promote international understanding and goodwill through person-to-person contact. Team members share personal knowledge of our area and the experience the customs, vocations and lifestyles of the country they visit. While abroad, team members stay in Rotarian’s homes and have the opportunity to meet their business and professional counterparts in the host country. They will also give presentations to Rotary Clubs and other groups about their trip experience.
The Rotary Foundation pays for round-trip airline tickets and local Rotarians in the host country provide meals, lodging and group travel in their district. Team members are responsible for their personal, incidental expenses.