Judy Smith, her daughter and two grandchildren spent a recent afternoon learning about their family heritage from Olga Tykhonova, who was visiting from Ukraine.
Smith hosted two members of a Ukrainian delegation in her Burbank home last week in a partnership between the Open World Program, sponsored by the Open World Leadership Center, and the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles. Tykhonova is the facilitator for the Ukrainian delegation. She lives in Cherkasy, about 150 miles south of the capital city of Kiev.
Formerly a senior program officer with the visitors council, Smith is retired but continues to serve as a volunteer citizen diplomat. Smith's grandparents emigrated in 1914 from the Eastern European country, but she never got the chance to talk to them about their life there.
"What I got from Olga's visit was a much more complete image of what life is like in the Ukraine," she said. "My grandmother didn't speak English very well, and passed away when I was young. Olga and I sit and talk about what it is like, and I think I will be there within one year."