A delegation from Chattanooga’s Sister City of Nizhny, Russia, came to campus to learn about the transformation of Chattanooga.

Chancellor Steve Angle welcomed the group and described Chattanooga’s metamorphosis from a dirty, industrial city to a beautiful outdoor destination with a reputation for entrepreneurial success and innovative use of technology.  Angle explained the role of the University in the city’s history and future.

“The University partners with our revitalized community to provide support and expertise,” Angle said.  “Faculty and students at the undergraduate and graduate level apply knowledge and work in partnership with community leaders to help make Chattanooga a better place to live.”

Members of the Russian delegation were interested in finding ways to improve their own city, according to Dr. Irina Khmelko, UC Foundation Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, Public Administration and Nonprofit Management and Vice President of Chattanooga Sister Cities.  She facilitated the delegation’s visit to campus.

“They came here because they want to be our friends and they want to learn about our beautiful Chattanooga. They think it’s a beautiful city,” Khmelko. “We made huge progress and they would like to know more about what we did to get where we are. They want to be a city of high quality of life where people enjoy coming and living.”

Nizhny is home to one of the largest integrated steel product plants in Russia.  Anna Andreyevna Yarkova, Senior Internal Communications Manager for EVRAZ Nizhny Tagil integrated iron-and-steel works, was among the delegates.  She described being actively involved in leading environmental projects in her city, including educational events and tree planting.

Another delegate, Svetlana Vladimirovna Naumova, head of the interregional perinatal center and an obstetrician-gynecologist, explained that she sees an elevated level of babies born with Down Syndrome, which she attributed to “unfavorable ecological conditions.”

Gennadiy Yuryevich Fedorov, inspector, State Budget Institution, works in the field of environmental protection and wilderness conservation.  He explained that a national park was created to help solve pollution problems.

“The mission of the park is to preserve nature and develop eco-tourism, so that citizens can become more conscious of the environment.  Locals come to swim and boat at the park,” he said with the assistance of an interpreter.  “Scientific work is also conducted to protect endangered species—the falcon is one example.”

UTC students had the opportunity to ask numerous questions of the Russian delegation.  When the auto industry came up in the discussion, Sergey Igorevich, facilitator for the Open World Leadership Center, took a playful approach.  He asked the students if they had ever seen an automobile produced by Russia?  When they agreed they had not, he told them the reason.

“Whatever they try to create in the automobile industry, it ends up looking like a tank,” he joked.

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