I traveled to Russia in September 2018 as part of a group of about 25 self-appointed U.S. citizen diplomats. Our ages ranged from teens to eighties, and we came from all four corners of the country and places in between. Our professional backgrounds included engineering, law, medicine, healthcare administration, real estate development, journalism, education, public administration, and more. Even a couple of high school students.
What I experienced in Russia far exceeded any expectations I might have had. I was left with a feeling of gratitude, admiration, and respect for the Russia and Russians that I met, the history and cultural heritage they so deeply love, and their creativity and resilience in the face of adversity. I came away with the conviction that there is indeed hope for the lessening of conflict between our nations and the fostering of mutual understanding, respect, and trust between our peoples. And it’s a hope that in large part lies in the hands of young people in Russia, the U.S., and the world at large.