Open World is an exchange and partnership program designed to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation between Eurasian and American leaders. It builds the groundwork for such cooperation by bringing young Eurasian civic and political leaders to the United States to work with their American counterparts during 10-day professional visits. Open World then facilitates ongoing partnerships among its Eurasian and American participants through virtual networking and post-visit activities. Since 1999, over 13,500 Eurasians have been hosted by some 6,000 families in more than 1,700 U.S. communities thanks to Open World. The program is managed by the Open World Leadership Center, a U.S. legislative branch agency.
Open World’s participating countries are Russia (the original focus country), Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.
Delegates come from all levels of government, NGOs, the media, and the private sector. Past participants include members of parliament and local legislators; Supreme Court justices and justices of the peace; senior civil servants and young NGO activists; and election committee officials and political party organizers.
Every exchange focuses on a specific theme, such as rule of law, education, or accountable governance. Each participating country has its own set of eligible themes, which are determined by Open World based on the country’s needs and on U.S. foreign policy objectives.
With only six members in a typical delegation, Open World participants can engage in hands-on experiences, direct observation, and in-depth exchanges with their counterparts in the host community. Activities range from accompanying a political candidate campaigning door-to-door to joining a newspaper editorial staff meeting, and from attending a fund-raising workshop to discussing a sentence in a criminal case with the judge who just imposed it.
A wide range of nonprofit and governmental organizations host Open World delegations, or oversee a network of local organizations that provide this hosting. The national host organizations or their local partners plan and conduct participants’ professional programs, provide meals and accommodations, and arrange cultural and social activities. Most delegates have homestays, enabling them to experience American family and community life and to share information about their own countries with their hosts.