Russians visit Kansas City to learn about helping visually impaired kids

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - For a group of Russian women, it's the latest stop on their American tour - and maybe the most important. At the Kansas School for the Blind, they can see what they couldn't see from home - how Americans help children with visual impairments.

During their week long stay in Kansas City, the women hope to take what they learn here and open their own center for visually impaired kids in Russia.

"The idea is to get one united center for those kids to come there and to get all kinds of help which they might need," said Marina Seisenbaeva, a volunteer with the Open World program, which brought the women here.

Hosted by the Lee's Summit Sunrise Rotary Club, the women all posses different skills that will help them open the center in Russia, a country where visually impaired children are sometimes left out.

"We want to help their families to understand that their children are normal and they can be in normal school, and we can help to do this," said Ekaterina Pichikova, an ophthalmologist.

During their stay, the women also receive a lesson in American culture, even though the relationship between the two countries is strained.

"What is good about the Open World program is that no matter what, professionals do have a chance to come here and see that those people working and doing what they really like to do, have nothing to do with the politics," said Seisenbaeva.

The women even attended the Royals World Series parade on Tuesday.

"We visited a lot of special places and cultural places and now we know more about America, about people and about culture," said Olga Shchukina, a lawyer.

With the women hoping to open the Russian center in the next five years, this trip is a chance to see through the political turmoil - to someday help those who can't see at all.

To learn more about the Open World program, click here.

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Justin Wilfon can be reached at justin.wilfon@kshb.com.

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