contributed.....The Kazakhstan delegation and the Juneau County University of Wisconsin Extension Office staff are holding the Kazakhstan flag. (Left to right): Nancy Zobal, Zamira Makhanova, Judy Kennedy, Gary Kirking, Zhanna Nurmakhanova, Craig Saxe, Nurlan Kobzhanov, Kathy Metzenbauer, April Martell, Patti Crowder, Galymbek Zhaxylykov, Talgat Zhumatov, Damir Tuleuov.

contributed…..Juneau County is serving as a host to 5 delegates and one group facilitator from Kazakhstan through Open World’s Leadership Development Program in partnership with World Services of Lacrosse WI. The delegation arrived in Mauston on December 1st just in time to watch the Christmas Parade making its way through the downtown streets. They received an official welcome by Mauston Mayor Brian McGuire and City Administrator Nathan Thiel. The Kazakhstan delegation will be staying in the area until December 9.

The group will be visiting various governmental, municipal and educational venues throughout Juneau County arranged by Gary Kirking of the Juneau County University of Wisconsin-Extension Office during their stay. Kirking traveled to Kazakhstan this past spring.

The Juneau County experience couldn’t happen without the support of willing host families who open their homes to delegates for an authentic American home stay. Daren and Carla Plantz along with their children are serving as hosts to Damir Tuleuov of Kyzylorda, Kyzylorda Province. Mike and Shawna Marquardt along with their children are serving as hosts to Talgat Zhumatov of Kyzylorda, Kyzylorda Province. Peter and Gail Bergeson are serving as hosts to Galymbeck Zhaxylykov of Kyzylorda, Kyzylorda Province. Dale and Marybeth Neinast along with Gulnara and Jessica Dreier are sharing the host stay week for delegate Zamira Makhanova of Temirlan, South Kazakhstan Province. Bob and Cheri Holterman are serving as hosts to Nulan Kobzhanov. Phil and April Martell along with their children Kierstin and Chandler are serving as hosts to the group facilitator, Zhanna Nurmakhanova, of Almaty. Betty Lackas and Roger Thul are hosting the interpreter, Alexander (Sasha) Etlin from Cincinnati, Ohio but originally from the Ukraine.

The program that the Kazakhstan delegation has traveled here under was authorized by Congress as a pilot project in 1999. Given the positive results of the pilot, Congress established the Open World Leadership Center in 2000. To date, over 14,000 young political, community and cultural leaders from all 89 regions of Russia and other Eurasia Countries have participated in the program. Since 2003, Open World has expanded into other countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Moldova. The Center’s programs aim to forge better understanding between the U.S. and other nations by creating opportunities for developing leaders to observe and experience American political, business, human services, community development, and community life.