The arrival orientation took place at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, where a panel comprised of three U.S. federal judges and a U.S. Supreme Court fellow led the sessions. Panelists provided an overview of the American judicial system and discussed topics such as the selection of federal and state judges, the role of judges and judicial discretion, compensation and employment benefits for judges, education and training of judges, judicial ethics, and the mechanisms for discipline and removal of judges used by federal and state courts.
The orientation sessions were an opportunity for the Ukrainian judges, who represented courts in 15 different regions of Ukraine, to engage in open and frank discussions with their American counterparts. During the Q&A session, panelists and participants had a lively discussion about the differences between and commonalities of their respective judicial systems, as well as the challenges faced by judges in both the U.S. and Ukraine.
The orientation program also included a special tour of the U.S. Supreme Court, followed by a sightseeing tour of the National Mall. In the evening, delegates were treated to a reception at the home of Nadia McConnell, President of the U.S - Ukraine Foundation.
Next, the Ukrainian delegates traveled to their respective host communities, where most experienced life in the U.S. firsthand, spending the week in the home of an American family. The professional programs varied according to the interests and background of the delegates. A delegation from Odessa, which was hosted by Judge Richard Bennett of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and the Rotary Club of Towsontowne, MD., visited a number of courts and law enforcement facilities (in Maryland), where they met with their American counterparts and observed operations and court proceedings. One member of this delegation was particularly impressed by the use of pre-trial mediation as a way to resolve disputes before they escalate to a trial, and she expressed an interest in implementing such a system back home in Ukraine.
The delegation of judges that traveled to the Boston area, where they were hosted by the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and Judge Marianne Bowler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, as well as the judges who were hosted in Columbus, OH, by Judge Edmund Sargus of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and the International Visitors Council of Columbus, had the opportunity to observe naturalization ceremonies. The Open World visitors were struck by the level of patriotism, evident among those being sworn in, for their new country of citizenship.
The Congressionally-sponsored Open World Program brings emerging leaders from Eurasian countries to the United States in order to give them firsthand exposure to the American system of participatory democracy and free enterprise. The program allows American leaders and their counterparts from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine to engage constructively with one another in a manner that complements the U.S. Congress's public diplomacy efforts on timely issues such as accountable governance, the environment, health, and rule of law. American Councils is the logistics coordinator for the Open World Program.