Russian "Ambassador" In Breda

The Carroll Herald, September 1989

Sergey Usenko is in Breda, Iowa, through an exchange of agriculture students program between Iowa State University in Ames and the Agricultural Institute of Stavropol in Russia. He and two other Russian students, Aleksandr Nikitin and Aleksandr Bobrusez, came to the United Stated about two months ago to learn about Iowa-style farming.

The three "Russian ambassadors" live and work with host families during their stay in Iowa. Sergey arrived at the home of his second host family, Roger [son of Louis Nieland and grandson of John Henry Nieland] and Mary Ann Nieland, on Sept. 15, and hopes to stay here a month. While here he will lean more about U.S. agriculture and will determine if Iowa's definition of the family farm can be replicated effectively in the hilly regions of southern Russia.

Sergey's first host family was Mr. and Mrs. Fred Strohbein at Reinbeck, IA. Mary Ann said that they have all been invited to visit the Strohbein farm on Oct. 1, to celebrate Sergey's 24th birthday. In fact, all three of the Russian exchange students will celebrate their birthdays while in the U.S, therefore sharing the special experience of growing a little older in America!

Majoring in farm mechanics, Sergey is a 4th year graduate student at the Institute of Stavropol in southern Russia. He is married, has a two-year-old son, and plays the guitar. Sergey's favorite American food is pizza, and since discovering it, he loves to play "Nintendo"!

While in Iowa, the three Russian students are paid a wage plus receive room and board from their host families, but are treated just like a member of the family. As a special treat for Mary Ann's birthday, which was Friday, Sept. 22, Sergey made Russian soup for her. She and Roger and their family feel very fortunate to be a host family to Sergey through the agriculture exchange program.

As an initial phase of a major student exchange in 1990, three ISU students, Kari Neumann of Denison and Kevin Johnston and Kevin Eblem, both of Creston, spent ten weeks in the Soviet Union this summer, learning about the Russian culture and agriculture. Scheduled for next summer, the exchange will involve sending 20 or more ISU students with agricultural backgrounds to the Soviet Union. In exchange, a group of Soviet students will come to Iowa.

According to J. T. Scott, an associate dean of the College of Agriculture and coordinator of International Agricultural Programs at ISU, the goal of the exchange "is to bring a closer relationship between America and the Soviet Union through reciprocal visits of our young adults."

"This has positive implications for international peace and international trade," he said. "And on a more personal basis, the farm families that host these people have an opportunity to lean about the Soviet Union first hand and to make friends that can last a lifetime."

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