WATERVILLE — Five social service workers from Waterville’s sister city, Kotlas, Russia, said they are enjoying their first trip to the United States and the chance to learn about American social services.
The five are visiting through the Open World Program to observe a broad range of social services available in the Waterville and Augusta area.
They also had a chance to visit Acadia National Park and meet with Gov. Paul LePage.
Aleksey Subbotin, Svetlana Kapustina, Yevgenia Leonovich, Olgo Maltseva, Galina Ivanova and Anna Semina said through a translator that the trip has been more than they hoped for and are looking forward to using what they learned here in the United States after they return home to Russia.
The visitors said Russia is in the process of developing some private and nonprofit social services, but most of the programs are government run.
Subbotin said the heart of social services are the same in both countries: The programs are geared toward helping people in the community.
Maltseva, who works at the Kotlas Rehabilitation Center for Children with Special Needs, said after viewing children with special needs who are integrated with other children, she wants to find a way to apply those principles at the center in Kotlas.
Semina, who works as a physical therapist at that center, said when the children are integrated together, it lets the other kids see their peers with dignity and learn how they are alike.
Kapustina, who works with disadvantaged families and students with behavioral problems, said she is hoping to develop some type of joint project between the two cities.
She also said she wanted to thank the host families who they stayed with for being hospitable and giving them a chance to learn more English.
Subbotin said he is glad he got to see American culture in person and said the United States is not like the movies.
He also said the trip was not only a chance to observe the United States, but a chance for people from the area to learn about Russia through the delegates.
Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252