U.S. Second Lady discusses Fulbright community college initiative in Russia

The Fulbright Program Director, Anthony Koliha, and two Russian colleagues, Natalia Dudareva from Ivanovo Power Engineering University and Natalia Smit from the Russian State University for Tourism and Service, met privately with Dr. Jill Biden during a recent visit of Vice President Biden and the Second Lady to Moscow, Russia. The focus of the discussion centered around the Fulbright Program’s on-going initiativs to expand access to the Program by including U.S. community colleges and sharing the U.S. community college model with Russian counterparts in higher education, vocational training, workforce development and other critical areas. Since 2008, the Fulbright Program has welcomed community college faculty within the annual U.S. scholar competition, thus far hosting 4 community college faculty members in Russia.
A targeted initiative, the Community College Administrator Seminar, was launched last year and brings senior community college leaders to Russia for meetings and events with their Russian counterparts. Dr. Biden, herself a proponent of U.S. community colleges and, along with her many other duties, a teacher at a U.S. community college, actively engaged in discussions with her guests, sharing her own ideas and personal experiences from teaching. She left each guest with a copy of a recent article she had written for the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Harnessing Community Colleges.”

U.S. Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden (right) greeting (left to right) Natalia Smit and Natalia Dudareva.

Ivanovo State Power Engineering University and the Russian State University for Tourism and Service have collaborated with U.S. community colleges in the past. Ms. Dudareva and Ms. Smit each hosted individual U.S. Fulbright fellows in spring 2010 during the first Fulbright Community College Administrator Seminar to Russia. Following from these visits, Ms. Dudareva’s university recently signed an agreement for future collaboration with her American colleagues at Northern Virginia Community College (the community college system where Dr. Biden continues to teach two days a week). And Ms. Smit is looking forward to visiting her colleagues at Quinsigamond Community College in early April 2011 to discuss opportunities for collaboration in English language training for volunteers at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, for which the Sochi branch of the university of tourism and service will play a critical role. Other participants from the 2010 seminar continue to work closely with their Russian counterparts on similar projects for on-going collaboration, while the Fulbright Program prepares to host the second group of U.S. community college administrators, who will arrive in Russia in early April 2011 for activities in Moscow and Yekaterinburg, along with individualized visits to host institutions in Ufa, Tyumen, Chelyabinsk, Perm and Kurgan.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden spent two full days in Moscow. On the same day that Dr. Biden discussed the Fulbright community college initiative in Russia, Vice President Biden addressed an audience at Moscow State University

at an event organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Russia and attended by, among others, a number of Fulbright Program fellows and alumni. Comments from Russian Fulbright alumni included the following: According to Ilya O., "Joe Biden's speech was appropriately short and focused, stressing the importance of foreign investments to Russia and communicating the message of why the US wants to see Russia in the WTO.” And another fellow, Boris P. stated, “I especially like the words of wisdom in the motivational speech that promote the pragmatic principles built on the concept of win-win situations--that give us all hope to reach physical, intellectual, emotion al, and spiritual satisfaction--together.” For more on the Vice President’s visit to Russia, visit

The Fulbright Program in Russia. Institute of International Education.
Strastnoy Bulvar 8A, 4th floor, Moscow, Russia 107031
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