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Russians Take Part In Mississippi Tour
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Congressman Roger Wicker brought a 10-member delegation of Russian Duma members and staff to Mississippi State University this summer as part of their trip to the United States to see democracy in action.
The delegation spent the day on campus visiting the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Engineering Research Center and meeting senior MSU officials. They also learned how the land- grant system generates research and passes that information on to the people of the state.
Charles Lee, vice president for MSU's Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, said the visit was an opportunity to highlight some of the university's finest technologies.
"We tried to show them technology at work," Lee said. "Several from the Duma were of the Agrarian Party and had an interest in agriculture, so we showed them the veterinary college, our remote sensing capability and a little bit about biotechnology. We also talked about the land-grant university system, including an understanding of how priorities are determined and how research and extension activities are staffed and funded."
The Russians were in the United States to see democracy in action by viewing several facets of American life. They spent three days in Mississippi before traveling to Washington, D.C. for four more days of tours.
Kyle Steward, administrative assistant to First Congressional District Representative Wicker, said Wicker coordinated the tour with Alabama Representative Bud Cramer through the Library of Congress. This is the second year for the Russian Leaders Program to be held, and last year about 38 congressmen participated by hosting delegations to their districts.
"The Russians are in a transition between decades of communism and their move towards more democratic principles," Steward said. "Those who visit are the people who can shape policy and move the country where it needs to go."
Other stops in Mississippi included touring William Faulkner's home in Oxford, Columbus Air Force Base, the Northeast Mississippi Medical Center and a new home under construction, and attending a college baseball game. They also met with bankers to discuss home mortgages and lending, and spoke with economic development officials.
"We showed them what democracy can be," Steward said. "They're a long way from that in Russian, but if we can give them some ideas and encourage them, they might end up our friends, not our enemies."