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The Soviets Who Came to Irvine

June 19, 1988

Your article "Four Soviets Bring a Bit of Glasnost to Irvine" (June 3) might have left your readers wondering: How did those Soviets get here? Who brought them? The answer is--I brought them, and my friends and neighbors and other ordinary citizens all over the United States brought them, in an attempt by ordinary people in both of our countries to increase understanding and cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Our President and First Lady demonstrated for the whole world to see that one visit can bring astonishing shifts in attitude. Their visit to the Soviet Union offered a realistic hope that many of the differences between our two countries can be resolved.

Unfortunately, many tourists return having seen only their hotels and tourist attractions.

There is a better way! Last October I went with nine other Orange County residents to the U.S.S.R. as a Citizen Diplomat on a trip arranged by the San Francisco-based Center for U.S./U.S.S.R. Initiatives. Almost every day we were able to choose from the sightseeing offered by Intourist and meeting in small groups in Soviet homes. We chose the best of what Intourist offered and spent many evenings with a wide variety of Soviets--teachers, artists, students and engineers--most content to stay in the U.S.S.R. but also some refuseniks anxious to leave.

With instructions and encouragement from our leader, we also made our own contacts with Soviets--in parks, in shops, on the subway, on buses--and many times were invited to join them for tea, a meal or a visit to their homes.

We all agree that meeting Soviets face to face was the best part of the trip and that traveling to the Soviet Union any other way would be a waste. I want to alert your readers to the existence of these wonderful trips. The cost from the West Coast varies from $2,300 to $3,500 and includes extensive pre-trip educational material. Contact the Center for U.S./U.S.S.R. Initiatives, 3268 Sacramento St., San Francisco, Calif. 94115.

ANN FLATTEN

Yorba Linda

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