Window on America Centers: A Project of the US Embassy in Ukraine
The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv supports a network of public access resource centers throughout Ukraine. This network includes the Information Resource Center (IRC), 29 "Window on America" Centers in regional cities throughout Ukraine, including 5 "Window on America" Centers for future leaders, and American Library in Kyiv. Each Window on America Center is a partnership between the United States Government and a Ukrainian regional public library.
Just like American Corner programs elsewhere in the region, the Window on America Centers are designed to provide up-to-date information on the United States and to augment English-language collections of the host libraries. The mission of each center is to promote mutual understanding between the United States and Ukraine. The Centers accomplish this by providing information about U.S. history, government, society, and values to Ukrainian audiences; providing access to Internet resources, and serving as focal points for U.S. assistance and exchange programs.
The U.S. Embassy has allocated funds to establish Window on America Centers in libraries throughout Ukraine. The regional libraries provide space and English-speaking staff members. The U.S. Government provides the start-up capital to purchase a basic set of books, CD-ROMs and video collection of documentaries and classic American films. The libraries also receive a grant for furniture and equipment, including computers with Internet access, a printer, copier, TV, and a DVD player. Each of the centers is made up of five key information modules: U.S. government, U.S. reference materials, business, English-language teaching, and education.
The Embassy also offers local training for librarians of Window on America Centers. Heads of Window on America Centers visited the U.S. on the State Department's International Visitor Program and Open World Program. During their tour, the librarians learned about the organization and administration of libraries in the United States, while studying current trends in reference sources and the uses of technology in the field. Participation in these programs gave them first-hand experience of living in America and helped them to make their resource centers more effective and innovative.
Each Window on America Center hosts a variety of events designed to bring Americans and Ukrainians closer together. Regular talks by U.S. Speakers, Embassy staff, Fulbright scholars, Peace Corps Volunteers, and other Americans allow U.S. and Ukrainian citizens to interact. The Window on America Centers also provide a venue for the Embassy's outreach activities, offering a distribution point for the Department of State's Office of International Information Programs (IIP) publications, a meeting place for USG-program alumni, and a host for photo exhibits, visiting speakers, film series, and other events that promote a better understanding of the U.S.
The centers are already showing their potential to reach a wide range of Ukrainian audiences. On their own initiative, the Windows have organized dozens of events - lectures, seminars, trivia contests - that gave Ukrainians an opportunity to learn more about the United States.