Happy American English Day!

Posted by: Jerry Frank, Regional English Language Officer

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In order to help better promote our English language programming around the world the Office of English Language Programs (OELP) in the U.S. State Department has designated December 12th as American English Day! On American English Day our OELP in Washington D.C. will launch a brand new website called American English. Until now the website has remained TOP SECRET but now you are able to see links to the new website starting December 12th, by visiting our home page at http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/relo.html.

On the new site you will be able find resources for teachers, students, materials related to American culture, the English Teaching Forum magazine, and the new video game for learning English, TRACE EFFECTS. On this new site you can also find out more about our various programs on our “About Us” page. Here you will find information on Regional English Language Officers (RELOs), links to English Language Programs, our E-Teacher Scholarship Program, the English Access Microscholarship Program, more about the English Language Specialist Program, and our English Language Fellow Program.

A Content Spotlight featured on the new site will include cultural information, lesson plan ideas, and connects to OELP materials (such as from Celebrate and other publications). A My Resource List feature will allow you to click on and save resources and materials on a clipboard and either print or send to email address. There will also be calendar pulls dates from the TESOL calendar, RELO regional events, and U.S. national holidays. In addition, there will be links to social media feeds from our Twitter and Facebook sites.

One of the most exciting features of this new site will be the introduction to Trace Effects. Trace Effects is a virtual learning program designed to engage younger audiences and to help them to practice American English while learning about society, study, and travel in the United States. Trace Effects will be supported on the new site with a variety of supplementary activities and links.

In addition to all the great new resources from Washington, RELO Kyiv encourages you to celebrate American English Day by joining our new social media site E-Connect. Go to http://e-connect.ning.com to join. E-Connect will be a platform for English teachers, learners, and lovers of American English in the RELO Kyiv region. Members will be able to form groups, start blogs, post events, photos and videos, and link their own websites and social media links to our site. It is our hope that E-Connect will be a place where members can share experiences, resources, tips, and ideas. So circle December 12th on your calendar and have a happy American English Day!

50 States in 50 Days: New Mexico – Land of Enchantment

Posted by: Eric Salzman, Economic Officer

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The state bearing the motto “Land of Enchantment” presents a fascinating mixture of the ancient and the futuristic within its borders.

Taos Pueblo residential complex, probably built between 1000 and 1450 A.D. (Photo by Luca Galuzzi)

Out of the Past

Native cultures flourished in New Mexico beginning around 1,200 BC, giving rise to the Anasazi civilization, which built fortified cities and cliff dwellings for defense and roads for commerce. “Anasazi” is a Navajo term to refer to the “Ancient Ones” who once lived in what later became the Navajo territory (encompassing large parts of what is now New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado). The Anasazi were forced to abandon their stone cities, perhaps due to a 300-year drought, but the ruins have become National Monuments and Cultural Parks at Bandelier and Chaco Canyon, and their descendants may still live on in the Pueblo, Hopi, Zuni and other tribes that call New Mexico home. Every August, New Mexico hosts the Gathering of Nations Powwow, which features exhibitions and competitions in dance, music, and traditional crafts of native peoples from throughout North and South America.

White Sands National Monument

Into the Future

In 1942, the Los Alamos National Laboratory was founded in New Mexico as part of the Manhattan Project, with the goal of developing the atomic bomb. Today, twenty years after the end of the Cold War, the Laboratory continues to conduct cutting edge research in all branches of science. Continue reading “50 States in 50 Days: New Mexico – Land of Enchantment”

Ukraine’s Georgetown Alumni Meet Their Most Senior Fellow Alumnus: Ambassador John Tefft

Posted by: Major Patrick Self, Assistant Air Attaché, Defense Attaché Office, U.S. Embassy Kyiv

On March 7th U.S. Embassy Kyiv hosted 2012’s first meeting of the Georgetown Club of Ukraine, featuring a conversation with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft on Ukraine’s Place in U.S. regional foreign policy for Eastern Europe and the CIS Countries. The event saw over 20 Ukrainian and American alumni of Georgetown University coming together to engage in a fascinating discussion with Ambassador Tefft. The participants enjoyed networking during the subsequent cocktail hour, continuing a tradition that brings closer a worldwide network of individuals who all share the same unique experience of studying at Georgetown University.

Former Ukrainian First Lady Kateryna Yushchenko and Ukraine CitiBank Director Steve Fisher attended the event, along with a number of young professionals from Ukraine’s vibrant public and private sectors, including professionals from investment banking, legal, academic, media, public policy, political and government circles. U.S. Embassy Kyiv alone counts about 14 Georgetown Alumni, mostly employees, but also spouses. An especially remarkable “Georgetown family” among these is that of Ambassador Tefft, who graduated from Georgetown University along with his wife, Mariella, and one of his daughters. Continue reading “Ukraine’s Georgetown Alumni Meet Their Most Senior Fellow Alumnus: Ambassador John Tefft”

Science 4 Business Kick-Off at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute

Posted by: Gaia Self, Economic Analyst for Environment, Science, Technology and Health

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft spoke on February 10 at a kick-off event for the new Science 4 Business Initiative (S4B) at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (KPI), which gave me the opportunity to participate. The event was organized by the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU), which is also the implementer of the project. The initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under the Global Initiative for Proliferation Prevention, helps Ukrainian institutes promote their science and technology internationally, becoming more self-reliant and aggressive in approaching international markets. S4B represents yet another success of the U.S.-Ukraine partnership in advancing science and technology and the commitment by the U.S. Government to actively support innovation in Ukraine.

Speakers for the event included Ambassador Tefft; incoming STCU Director, Ambassador Michael Einik; First Deputy Head of the State Agency for Science, Innovations and Informatization, Borys Grynyov; Director of the National Academy of Science’s Center of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer, Yuri Kapytsia; and KPI Rector Mykhailo Zgurovskiy. The speakers noted the challenges that Ukraine faces in the field of technology commercialization and welcomed S4B as a critical response to the needs of Ukraine’s scientific community.

Ambassador Tefft discussed the importance of technology commercialization as a stimulator of economic growth, underscoring the key role that technology transfer holds in the U.S. economy – for both universities and tech companies. S4B is modeled after the organization of U.S. technical universities, where almost every institute has an office dedicated to technology commercialization. Inspired by this structure, which has proven successful in the U.S. and abroad over the years, S4B allows U.S. and Ukrainian partners to co-fund a Chief of Technology Commercialization Officer for one year (renewable for one additional year) in nine institutes. In the words of Ambassador Tefft, this “commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation will bring successes that will make them a true model for other institutions across Ukraine.”

It is common knowledge nowadays that Ukraine has a unique tradition of great scientists and great science; unfortunately, it is also widely recognized that Ukrainian research institutes face unique challenges in capitalizing on their own innovation potential. As several of the speakers put it, the lack of widespread knowledge, practices, and resources related to technology commercialization prevents Ukrainian science from being recognized internationally. Statistics put the current number of scientists in Ukraine at 140,000, but reveal that altogether they are responsible for only 0.31% of the country’s GDP. The already low levels of state financing, in addition, are dispersed across 38 different agencies, perpetuating a system where state support for R&D remains inefficient.

The U.S. and Ukrainian governments are working together to give Ukrainian science the opportunity to succeed internationally, and STCU has been a key enabler of this effort for several years. In this context, it is worth recalling the example brought up by Ambassador Tefft during his speech of a famous innovator, a former student at KPI, who succeeded in making his research not only known in the United States, but used around the world. Igor Sikorsky was an engineer born in Kyiv who immigrated in the United States and there commercialized his research to develop the first viable American helicopter in 1939. Not coincidentally, the Kyiv City Council renamed the street where the new U.S. Embassy compound is located after him – a great reminder of the opportunities that can emerge from the right synergies between our two countries in the scientific arena.


USAID Municipal Heating Reform Project “Save Heat, Save Ukraine!”

Posted by: Erin Concors, Senior Communications Advisor, USAID

As a humanitarian aid volunteer in Ukraine in the 1990s, I discovered many ways to stay warm during the long Ukrainian winters. I experimented with local methods of heating the small apartment that I rented on Kyiv’s left bank, since I had no control over my apartment’s temperature. To cope with the cold, I would light my antiquated gas oven, turn it to “high” and leave the oven door open. I bought Styrofoam insulation, stuffed it into the spaces between the window panes, and used tape to seal the gaps. Alternatively, when the city’s heating system had cranked up the heat and it simultaneously warmed up outside, I opened windows to cope with the hot, stuffy atmosphere.

This personal experience taught me how great the need is for reform of Ukraine’s community heating systems. Since 2009, the U.S. Government has provided financial and technical assistance to Ukraine through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Municipal Heating Reform Project. The project works to help Ukraine improve its heating sector to deliver quality services to private citizens, public institutions and industry. The four-year project aims to address Ukraine’s inefficient legal and regulatory framework; outdated inefficient heat generating equipment; a lack of heat metering and controls; poor management of heating systems; and Ukraine’s dependence on foreign sources of energy. Continue reading “USAID Municipal Heating Reform Project “Save Heat, Save Ukraine!””

Webinar Builds on U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership

Posted by: Gaia Self, Economic Analyst for Environment, Science, Technology and Health

On November 22, U.S. Embassy Kyiv hosted a web seminar to survey commercial scientific databases and explain the standards and requirements for publication in international scientific journals. The webinar completed another action item for the Science and Technology Working Group (STWG), under the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission. Officials from the State Agency for Science, Innovation and Information (SASII) and over 15 key members of Ukraine’s scientific community gathered to attend.

The webinar was a key result of the STWG to address Ukraine’s desire for better access to international scientific databases. SASII, the V.I. Vernadsky National Library, Ukraine Institute for Scientific, Technical and Economic Information, Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, and the Institute of Veterinary Medicine were among the institutions gathered at the Embassy’s DVC facility. Speakers from the international scholarly society IEEE, the publishing company Thomson Reuters, and the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) made presentations in response to the Ukrainian request for information about international scientific databases and the requirements for the publication of Ukrainian research projects.

The event was organized to support the push of Ukrainian institutes for competitiveness on the international academic market. Access to scientific databases can determine an institute’s success and increase the chances of published research to be considered for international patents. Today, universities worldwide are increasingly ranked according to the publication/citation rates of their professors and researchers, and Ukrainian scientists naturally want to compete with their peers. Ukrainian institutions are in the game on a global scale to attract the best students, to earn a good reputation and maintain their prestige, and publication rate is a ranking criteria. In addition, the market for locally-driven innovation is primarily outside of the country’s boundaries, which makes the competition to earn international patents more critical.

In addition to being a concrete result of last year’s STWG, the web seminar successfully demonstrated the commitment of both countries to work together toward advancing science in Ukraine. We all look forward to the next steps!

Intellectual Property Rights Conference in Crimea

Posted by: Alexander Ryan, Economic Officer

Alex and ACCESS students in Sevastopol
Alex and ACCESS students in Sevastopol

I traveled to Crimea September 12 to represent the Embassy at Ukraine’s 18th international conference on intellectual property rights (IPR).  The conference, organized by the State Intellectual Property Service of Ukraine  and the World Intellectual Property Organization, featured participants from government, private industry, and the NGO sector.  I heard that there were participants from over 14 countries, including the United States, Germany, Russia, and China.

Overall, the conference was a great opportunity to discuss the current state of IPR protection in Ukraine and what Ukraine can do to improve its protection of IPR.  While Ukraine has made some improvements over the past five years, unfortunately, IPR protection in the country remains insufficient.

Why is a robust system of IPR protection important for Ukraine?  Most basically, protecting IPR is essential to promote the creativity and ingenuity of researchers, scientists, artists, and engineers, who are at the forefront of technological developments and innovative solutions.  If people don’t think they will be paid for their work, it takes away the motivation to create and innovate.  Protecting innovation will improve the investment climate and increase economic growth.

It’s also a question of fairness.  Ukrainian and U.S. workers deserve to benefit from their own labor.  And U.S. and Ukrainian companies deserve to benefit from their investments in capital, innovation and human resources.  Many innovators take enormous risks and should be able to enjoy the returns when those risks lead to success. Continue reading “Intellectual Property Rights Conference in Crimea”