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Letters

August 9, 2012

Poor Tom’s Almanac: From Russia With Love

(Continued)

The J-1 Visa program allows these students to work for up to four months in the United States. Each participant is interviewed in their home country before being hired.

Over these past 32 years, more than 250,000 students and young adults from more than 100 countries have come to our shores, including a vast number to this community. This year, a partnership was formed with China, which sent people to practice English in a practical business and family environment.

You’ll often find Irena on the telephone or pounding the keyboard, setting up contacts and finding homes for these students. More often than not, she succeeds with a little persistence. Many of them are repeats, knowing the good that comes with the gesture.

Like the Dyers (husband David and wife Debbie of Haverhill) who were featured a week ago in this column, connecting with other nations of the world not only produces unity but promotes peace and understanding.

The Anthonys have taken a number of CHI tours, more recently to Russia and Bulgaria. Ken’s daughter Anne Marie moved to Russia seven years ago and worked for CHI one season, interviewing students who come to work in America. The modest salary they may earn compensates for their living expenses.

Irena’s mom, Nadya, still lives in Russia and Irena gets to revisit her homeland every year. Another reason why she and Ken travel there is purely out of fate.

After graduating from the University of West Virginia in 2004, Anne Marie asked for a trip to Russia for her graduation gift. Once there, she wanted to stay. There she was, in the middle of a cold Siberian winter — a far cry from the pleasures of New England and Bradford. Since that time, she secured a master’s degree in Marketing from Omsk State University in Russia, went to live with Irena’s mom, became fluent in the language, and worked as an English professor there.

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