The Covid pandemic has interrupted our in-person activities with Russian counterparts but Linkages has attempted to maintain virtual exchanges with Novgorod. It is unlikely in-person sister city exchanges will resume in the near future but it is possible they will in 2022.
Russia has opened its borders to over 60 countries but all international travelers, including those from the US, must present proof of a negative PCR test or proof of antibodies. The Open World group that was scheduled to come to Rochester in spring 2020 is still on hold. Linkages was approved to host a delegation from Velikiy Novgorod to dialogue with American partners about services to protect older adults from abuse, neglect, exploitation and fraud including property fraud. The current hope is that pandemic conditions will ease enough for them to visit in the second half of 2022.
In the meanwhile, Open World in Washington has agreed to organize a virtual meeting with the group in December. They will be meeting with representatives from the Greater Rochester Real Estate Board to discuss training and credentialing for real estate agents to foster ethical real estate practices and prevent fraud. The Russian group, which includes two physicians, will also meet with Family Medicine residents from URMC to hear about the healthcare system for older adults.
Linkages’ Education Committee has also reached out to Irina Melinkova, Curriculum Lead, Department of Education, Regional Institute of Professional Development, in Novgorod. The committee has invited her to arrange for virtual visit by Rochester teachers with teachers of English in Novgorod or to set up an exchange via YouTube. The committee is also looking for ways to support a continuation of peer-to-peer communication which has frequently followed visits to Novgorod by Rochester-based teachers.