OPEN (Organization Promoting Everlasting Neighbors) has been a part of the Newton and Jasper County area for 26 years. January is “Sister City Month”.One of our special projects has been our high school student program, an important aspect of our relationships with our sister cities in Wu Chi, Taiwan and Smila, Ukraine. Our current student, Alona Kosenko, from Ukraine, is being hosted by the family of Marci and Nat Clark. Alona participated on the Newton High School swim team first semester and is currently on the NHS JV Basketball team.
The student program started in 1993 and we are proud that we have had 42 students take advantage of the opportunity to participate in area high schools since then. We appreciate the numerous host families that have welcomed our students. Without this support, it would not be possible to sustain this important program.
An artist from Ukraine, Viktoriia Fil, was in Newton Sept. 21 to Oct. 8, 2017, and shared her Petrykivka artistic talent and style with more than 600 Newton residents and students. Painting classes were held at the Center for Arts and Artists and art classes in the Newton school district had an opportunity to learn the petrykivka style as well. Viktoria also completed a large mural that will be displayed in the Newton school district. This artistic opportunity was sponsored by OPEN. Viktoriia was accompanied by interpreter Olena Shapareva.
Ruth Den Hartog, Newton High School art teacher, represented OPEN on a trip to Taiwan in June 2017 and visited WuCHi High School. All four of our students from Taiwan attended this high school. The trip was made possible by gifts to OPEN from our friend May-May Ng.
Spring of 2017 Marvin Campbell returned to western Ukraine to work again with Maria Sigetij, former participant in an Open World educator group that visited Newton several years ago. This ongoing project has resulted in several drama productions as well as instruction by Campbell regarding set construction.
Our current board members are: Sheri Benson, Bob Callaghan, Warren Erickson, Jane Johnson, Debbie Knopf, Mary Beth Lawson, John McNeer, Sveta Miller, Jeff Price, David Raymond, Tori Reynolds and Joan Tyler.
Jane Ann Cotton