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Six from Kyrgyzstan Visit as CSWAC's First In-Person Exchange Project in over Two Years

Return-to-US-Embassy Kyrgyz visitors receive project completion certificates from U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

On April 1 – 9, six women from across Kyrgyzstan visited Colorado Springs to engage with other professionals in the field of Promoting Peace and Security. The delegates were hosted in the homes of Colorado Springs World Affairs Council members, fully immersing them into Colorado culture and lifestyle. Their short week in our city was packed with meetings. These leaders in social advocacy, community policing, education, government, and public policy, met with their professional counterparts in Colorado Springs throughout the week to engage in professional discussions and ideological and practical exchanges.

The first day was spent meeting with members of government both locally and federally. Mayor John Suthers and Donna Nelson from the Sister Cities office addressed the delegates by sharing a little about the history and future of Colorado Springs.

In the afternoon, the group had an inspiring panel discussion with women leaders in government, El Paso County Commissioner Cami Bremer, City Councilwoman Yolanda Avila, Green Mountain Falls Town Manager Becky Frank, and School District 11 Board Member Darleen Daniels.

To conclude the first day of meetings, delegates also caught a glimpse of cooperation between political parties as representatives from the Congressional Offices of Representative Doug Lamborn (R) Senator John Hickenlooper (D) and Senator Michael Bennet (D) discussed various issues faced by Coloradans today and how each office serves constituents.

As these professional exchanges are equally cultural exchanges, time was also spent enjoying local activities. Visitors took a tour of the Colorado Springs Pioneer's Museum, shopping around Manitou Springs, and hike Garden of the Gods Park, among other activities. 

The week consisted of additional meetings with InsideOut Youth Services, The Place, and Safe Passage to discuss how to engage with social issues that impact youth and how to support those victims holistically. They also met with Colorado Springs Police Department and organizations to learn how human trafficking is combatted locally with support of TESSA, CSPD Human Trafficking Unit and Victims Advocacy Unit, and Human Trafficking Taskforce of Southern Colorado.

Delegates also had the opportunity to experience life on a U.S. college campus. They dined in the UCCS student cafeteria, walked the campus grounds, and even presented the work they do in Kyrgyzstan to a criminal justice class.

After a visit to UCCS, visitors met with women leaders in economic development. This panel was comprised by Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC CEO Johnna Reeder Kleymeyer, Chief Economic Development Officer Cecilia Harry, and board members Andrea Barker, Regina Lewis, and Samantha Satchell.

On one of their final days in town, delegates visited District 11 school Trailblazer Elementary. Here, they toured the school with Principal Ken Pfeil and watched school social worker Shawn Hayes in action teaching students how to handle and resolve conflicts in a healthy way.

Professional meetings concluded with a visit to Colorado Springs Utilities Conservation & Environmental Center to learn about sustainable water and electricity management efforts in Colorado Springs.

To close out their time with us, our Executive Director, Tracey Johnson hosted a closing reception to send them back home American style with some delicious western BBQ. As this reception, the guests had the opportunity to meet and network some of CSWAC's premium members and sponsors, as well as board members. 

What an honor it was to learn from and host these inspiring women in Colorado Springs. The world indeed happens here! 

We give special thanks to home hosts Tracey and Ross Johnson, Gretchen Bliss and family, Sharron Toulouse, Marilyn Miller, and Clair Sneed and family. Without their support, our six new friends from Kyrgyzstan would not have visited Colorado Springs. Thanks also to Janet and Sky Foerster for hosting an opening reception and to all members of our community who met with the delegation and shared their expertise. 

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Tuesday, 28 May 2024