predecessor, Business for Russia, began in 1994 and programmed over
1,300 Russian entrepreneurs to the United States over a two-year period.
in the business program were required to have a professional level
of English so they could function in an intense hands-on internship
with American companies without the use of an interpreter.
Many of the participants
returned to Russia and continued to keep in contact with their new
American colleagues and friends. Several of these participants have
signed joint-ventures with companies they either worked with, or were
introduced to, during the program.
In 1996, because
of the success of Business for Russia, the program was expanded to
include Ukraine and Moldova. At the same time, the program's name
was changed to Community Connections, and a decision was made to include
other professionals in the program.
Unlike the business
program, legal, local government and other professionals were not
required to speak English. Local community organizations identified
and hired local interpreters qualified in the language of the participants.
In 1997, the
program was expanded again to include the NIS countries of Belarus,
Armenia and Georgia. Professional fields were also expanded to meet
the priority areas identified by the American Embassy in the respective
country. Professional fields included legal reform, environmental
policy, agriculture, and NGO development.
In 1999, Community
Connections hosted participants from seven NIS countries: Armenia,
Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.
Russia and its successor, Community Connections, have hosted more
than 7,000 participants from the NIS since 1994.