Russian delegates visit UTC to learn from a "clean" Chattanooga - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Russian delegates visit UTC to learn from a "clean" Chattanooga

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - A group of Russians are wrapping up a brief stay in Chattanooga. They came from one of Chattanooga's sister cities, Nizhniy Tagil, which they said has an environment similar to where Chattanooga was 30-40 years ago. And they're here to get ideas on how to clean up their home.

The group spent the morning on UTC's campus for a presentation, round table discussion and campus tour.

"They came here because they want to be our friends and they want to learn about our beautiful Chattanooga. They literally think it's a beautiful city," said Dr. Irina Khmelko, UTC professor and VP of the Chattanooga Sister City Association. "We really made huge progress and they would like to know more about what did we do to get where we are. They want to be a city of high quality of life where people enjoy coming and leaving."

Dr. Irina Khmelko facilitated a discussion between the delegates and faculty, exchanging views and having a discussion of "mutual interest." The five Russians were in Chattanooga to learn how the city transformed from Walter Cronkite's infamously-dubbed "dirtiest city in America" to the clean, tourist-friendly city it is today.

"I work at a major metallurgical factory in our city and of course our factory has a great impact on environment and there is a lot for us to do to clean our environment but a lot has been done already," said delegate Anna Yarkova.

Yarkova said she should like "to study and adopt American best practices for organizing volunteer initiatives that contribute to the improvement of the ecological situation in the city."

With recent tension between the U.S. and Russia, Khmelko said Monday was not about politics. And she should know. She was born in Ukraine.

"Citizens and people can still be friends and we can still talk about what we're all interested in which is keeping our cities beautiful and wonderful and clean and high quality of life so there are many things we can talk about," she said.
The Russians also spent some time exploring the Tennessee Aquarium and eating southern food.
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