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Students' Visit to Soviet Union

May 15, 1985

The letters (May 8) that viewed with horror the visit to Russia by a group of Beverly Hills high school students were quite pompous and indicative of the Pollyanna-ish, naive attitude of some toward the reality of Russian communism.

And conversely, I found these young high school students to be quite mature, full of high-spirited goodness, with a healthy understanding of the real world.

These students went to Russia with the open-faced good will of teen-agers, harming no one, cheerfully and with a friendly manner, visiting with Russians and displaying not only creative entrepreneurship not uncommon to many travelers of the world, but bringing joy and happiness to deprived Russians (in the form of needed and desired material comforts)--given totally free to those unable to pay for it, and at an agreed voluntary price for those able, and quite obviously willing to pay.

The beauty of these amazingly mature teen-agers was that as young as they are, they were never sucked in by the Russian propaganda machine. They never lost sight of the reality and showed the Russians that contrary to the common vision of the spoiled, well-to-do teen-age brat, they could be charitable, not selfish, and that the capitalist United States could provide the Russians with the good things in life much better than communism can.

I would say that on balance, considering all the aforesaid, as well as the tidy sums received by the Russian government by virtue of the heavy sums that had to be spent by these tourists to travel to and stay in Russia, the Russian government, the Russian people that the students had contact with, and the Beverly Hills students themselves all received substantially more benefit than harm from this experience.

LEON PERLSWEIG

Los Angeles

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