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Delegation from former Soviet republics visits ASU

September 18, 2008
How can a group of high-level administrators in public utility and energy-related sectors from Russia, Georgia and the Ukraine travel and work together in the United States while political tensions are rising and military confrontations are occurring among their countries back home?

A 21-member delegation from those countries visited ASU on Sept. 5 as part of a four-week program arranged by the Special American Business Internship Training Program (SABIT), sponsored by the International Trade Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce to connect Eurasian professionals with U.S. counterparts and companies in order to promote partnerships, sustainable economic growth, market reforms and increased institutional capacity.

Dawn Kallestad, director of the Office of the Vice President for Global Engagement, hosted the group’s campus visit, which included meetings at the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering and the Global Institute of Sustainability.

“They talked about that when events began to unfold,” Kallestad says, “and agreed it best simply to deal with one another as individuals, not as representatives of different countries. They decided to keep their focus on the sustainability issues they’re here to study and on opportunities to build bridges of collaboration, both among themselves and with those they meet during their travels.”

The visit to ASU focused on how the university is addressing sustainability issues and entrepreneurship, both on its campuses and in collaboration with external partners.

“What impressed me,” says George Abulashvili, director of the Energy Efficiency Centre in the Republic of Georgia, “is the activity of the university to bring businesses and academia together. It is not an easy task, but you have created kind of locus where businesses can come and academics are there and they’re talking and exchanging ideas. From my knowledge, this is unique and might be really effective.”

The group was in the Phoenix area to attend the second annual GreenSummit Expo and Conference, an international event focused on sustainability that was started last year by Chris Samila, and ASU senior in global studies and political science. The conference moved to the Phoenix Convention Center this year to accommodate the level of interest—both national and international—that the event attracted.

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