by John Stuart
March 31, 2005
OU students are gathering this morning for a videoconference with students in Kiev, Ukraine, to discuss the U.S. role in encouraging democracy in Ukraine, Riley Ross, economics junior, said.
The videoconference is from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. in 132 Ellison Hall. The conference is in conjunction with Americans for Informed Democracy, a student organization based in Washington D.C., said Ross, a member of the organization.
Ross, who will be speaking in the videoconference, said the goal of Americans for Informed Democracy is to bring together Americans of multiple political parties to support democracy worldwide.
“More than anything, what AID stands on is not bi-partisan, but non-partisan unity,” Ross said.
The videoconference will allow OU students and students from five other U.S. universities to speak face-to-face with college students from Ukraine about the United States’ role in supporting democracy in Ukraine and the U.S. role in Iraq.
People from each university will speak for five minutes followed by an open forum in which anyone may speak or ask questions, Ross said.
“We are trying to have an open forum about the spread of a liberal and free democracy,” Ross said.
Seth Green, founder of Americans for Informed Democracy and Yale graduate student, was living overseas during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He said he first saw a need for an organization like Americans for Informed Democracy through his own experiences during the weeks following the terrorist attacks.
Green said he thought the ways the local people reached out to him because he’s an American were amazing. They offered him everything from their condolences to baked goods, he said.
Stemming from these experiences, Green saw a need for better communication among the United States and foreign nations, especially in regard to the U.S. foreign policy on encouraging democracy in other countries, Green said. He said the organization he founded links U.S. students to students in foreign countries in an attempt to better understand important issues.
The videoconference comes at a time of change for Ukraine, as Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko attempts to eradicate economic corruption within the country with hopes of joining the European Union, according to a Jan. 30, 2005 BBC News article.
AID has been in existence for one year and has members at 250 universities throughout the nation, Green said. He said he hopes more videoconferences will take place in the future so more American students can talk with foreign students.
Ross said this is his first semester to be involved with the organization, and he said he hopes it will be sponsored by OU next year.