Monday, July 27, 2009

Ukrainan newspaper partners arrive in the U.S.

Four staff members of the newspaper Panorama as well as two translators arrived in Amarillo late Saturday for a week-long stay. It was a more than 24-hour journey for them, including a two-hour delay on the last leg of the flight from Dallas.

It's the first of two visits for journalists and other newspaper professionals from the town of Sumy. A different group will visit in late October or early November.

For these four, it's their first visit to the States.

Not only will they spend much of the week learning and discussing newspapers operations, they will also get a taste of Amarillo.

With them for the first few days of the trip is Eleeza Agopian, program associate for the International Research and Exchanges Board in Washington D.C., which coordinates the program.

Sunday morning started off with a tour of Amarillo, which included everything from the Cadillac Ranch - where they painted one of their cars in Ukrainian colors - to Route 66 and everything in between. A former newspaper employee, Ann Scamahorn, gave a lot of interesting information about the area during the tour.

After a lunch at Dyer's BBQ - you've got to have Texas BBQ - the day included a visit to the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum and an excellent tour by Bill Green of the museum.

Our guests favorite part of the museum? The vintage automobiles. Since many Ukranians walk everywhere, maybe there's more appreciation for cars.

Speaking of walking, the group was amazed that there was no one out walking on Sunday morning - except the few doing it for exercise! One person said he was beginning to wonder if the nearly 200,000 people of Amarillo really existed, because they were no where to be seen!

We explained that many were in church and many more were probably still at home. As I mentioned after my trip to Sumy, Ukrainians walk or ride bikes everywhere, especially in the more rural towns.

After the tour and museum, it was off the Wonderland, where Paul Borchardt was a gracious host. Paul has visited Russia before and spent a few minutes talking with them. (Paul is in the photo with Iluliia Polozhly (l-r), the marketing director and wife the newspaper's publisher; Olena Byetanova, controller; Pavlo Parfentyev, website manager; and Volodymyr Nyankin, reporter and web site administrator.)

There aren't many amusement parks in Ukraine, I'm told. In fact, most of them are traveling productions that I think they called "luna parks."

But the group immediately took rides on the Texas Tornado, Drop of Fear and the Intimidator.

Also, they loved seeing the Cyclone roller coaster painted in Ukranian colors of Blue and Yellow! If you've ever ridden the Cyclone, it consists of many turns and it can jerk you around from time to time. One of the translators said it reminded her of Ukranian politics.

Thanks to Bill, Paul and others who helped make our friends' first day in Amarillo a memorable one.

Today's agenda includes a meeting with the newspaper management staff, a tour of the newspaper, lunch at Abuelo's (They are really looking forward to Mexican food!), time with our Human Resources Director and newsroom and dinner tonight at - you guessed it - the Big Texan.

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