Back in 2005, the City of Kenai entered into a sister city agreement with the Russian city of Bolshoi Common, for mutual community benefits. At a recent Kenai Chamber of Commerce meeting, Sal Mattero of Reality Check Consulting reported on his trip with Dee Gaddis of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District to Vladivostok, Russia. According to Mattero, their visas for Bolshoi Common were revoked early last year, so they arranged to meet with city officials in Vladivostok. "We had gone back there to talk with them about a new business incubator similar to the EDD program we have here in Kenai. Then we were asked to go back in 2008 to review their program, and that was when we introduced them to the Job Shadow concept which they became very interested in," said Mattero.
Mattero told the Chamber that educators in Russia and their new business people are very interested in showing their young people opportunities that are outside of government work and liked the Job Shadow model. "The reception they gave us was just unbelievable. They were extremely welcoming and just couldn't do enough for us to show their appreciation for our willingness to share our Job Shadow program and were excited to implement it in their city. They brought the cream of their young people to meet with us, and they too were excited about trying something different like our Job Shadow program," he said. Mattero says it may take them about a year or so to get the program started, and that they will be interpreting the materials he brought. "They have a committed educational core that are committed to their children. They told me they would make it work and that they would start a Job Shadow program," he added. Mattero intends on staying personally in touch via phone and internet even though the sister city agreement is coming to a close. "I'll do whatever it takes to help them get a program started there." Concluded Mattero.
Now in its 15th year, the Kenai Job Shadow program sponsored by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce will take place in March, and Mattero says there is still time for local business hosts to get involved. "There are two things that we need for our program. We need hosts, businessmen and women in our community to host a student as a shadow, and we need volunteers who have some time to help with transporting students from KCHS to their hosts, or to help out at the Chamber answering phones and helping to make the matches for the students. There's a lot to do so even if someone can't be a business host we can use their help. The reason our program has been so successful is the dedication of the teachers at KCHS and the hours the volunteers willingly give year after year," said Mattero. To volunteer or learn more about the Job Shadow program call Tina Baldridge at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce at 283-7989.
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