THE future of Soviet-American relations is written on the face of
A year ago, the pretty 16-year-old could not have imagined
herself visiting the United States - certainly not as a high school
student, and probably not in the course of her lifetime as a citizen
of a nation with a 70-year history of closed borders.
Now, fresh from a ground-breaking five-week exchange visit to
Tucson, Ariz., she bubbles with enthusiasm.
"It was wonderful!" she says in easygoing English, recalling her
stay in the home of an American family she called "Mom" and "Dad,"
and her classes at Green Fields Country Day School, a private
Wonderful, but not necessarily relaxing. Under the terms of the
exchange, the students visited 22 other private and public schools
while in Tucson, coming in contact with more than 5,000 American
students. In addition, they touched millions more through dozens of
television, radio, and newspaper stories and interviews.
Now that Marina has caught up on her sleep, what's her abiding
impression of all that effort?
"Everywhere we came to visit schools and people, they met us with
such hospitality," she says. "Always smiles."
Her delegation - seven students and two teachers from Public
School 155, a drab concrete building tucked behind apartment blocks
near the center of the Soviet Union's third-largest city - charted
new territory. Reflecting the continuing ferment of perestroika and
the progressive decentralization of Soviet authority, it was the
first US-USSR exchange of junior high and high school students to be
negotiated at republic level - approved only by the Presidium of the
Ukrainian Soviet, without oversight from Moscow.
As such, it stands as a cameo of the ways in which the thawing of
cold-war tensions has warmed relations at the most basic levels in
The thaw that brought Marina to Tucson dates from 1985. That
November, in Geneva, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader
Mikhail Gorbachev signed the General Exchanges Agreement,
reinstating agreements terminated by President Jimmy Carter after
the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Since that Geneva meeting,
exchanges have spiraled upward - in sports, music, the arts,
professional groups, and academic programs.
Many have operated through government-to-government contact. But
not the Kiev-Tucson link. It began when George Kostilyov, principal
of the English-emphasis Public School 155, appeared on a home video
made by a group of visiting artists from Tucson and said he was
eager to develop an exchange with a US school.
Back in Tucson, Phineas Anderson, the headmaster at Green Fields,
saw the video and wrote to Mr. Kostilyov. "We both got really
enthusiastic, pumping each other up," says Mr. Anderson, contacted
by phone at his office in Tucson. "We think alike, we know how to
move our mutual bureaucracies, we're both organized, we both have
the same desire for this generation to move forward and appreciate
Spurring each other on in weekly telephone calls, the two
principals laid the groundwork for the exchange. By last June,
Anderson had assembled the funding he needed - $20,400 from the
Samantha Smith Memorial Exchange Program of the United States
Information Agency (USIA), and the balance from a Tucson family.
Then, in October, he visited Kiev, where Kostilyov arranged high-
level visits with representatives from the Ukrainian Peace Committee
(the major Soviet funder), the People's Committee on Education, and
the Youth Organizing Committee. …