Attendees at the 1991 National FFA Convention received a special greeting from Boris Yeltsin, then president of Russia, who commented on the abundance of food in the United States in the early ‘90s compared to the economic situation in Russia. He also expressed the desire that we never return to the Cold War.
Yeltsin’s message was read at the national FFA convention by Stepan Khrouslov, a Russian student who had come to the United States through an FFA exchange program to study agriculture.
Because of the economic collapse in Russia at that time, Khrouslov says “it was a great chance for me to come to the United States, gain an experience, save some money and get my education.” Khrouslov attended Spartanburg Methodist College (graduating with high honors) and Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., and he worked at a nursery for one year.
In November 1991, Khrouslov traveled by bus from South Carolina to the national FFA convention in Kansas City. He says, “It was so great to see skyscrapers and a real large American city, since I worked in Roebuck, S.C.”
Once he arrived at the convention site, Khrouslov says, “I came up to your chief officer and asked him whether I could read the greeting from Boris Yeltsin. He asked me if I had a suit and a tie, and after I said ‘yes,’ he said he did not mind.”
While he was in Kansas City, Khrouslov also went to a rodeo and traveled some around the city.
Now, twenty years later, Khrouslov is managing partner of To Russia With Ease, www.torussia.org, a resource of free and up-to-date information about Russia, Moscow and St. Petersburg. It also offers a directory of cultural and educational exchange organizations, safety tips for travelers to Russia, business opportunities and even some Russian recipes! Included among the partners of To Russia With Ease are the University of Texas – Arlington, the Embassy of Belgium and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
Khrouslov lives in Moscow with his wife and three-year-old daughter. He says, “If it had not been for FFA, I have no idea what I would do in Russia in the early ‘90s. Thanks to FFA, I was able to gain experience, save some money and pass TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and SAT (then Scholastic Aptitude Test).
“Thanks to FFA and the education I got in the United States, I was able to find great jobs in Russia.” (After returning to Russia, Khrouslov worked for such companies as Coca-Cola and Ford Credit.)
Whether traveling more than 5,200 miles from Moscow to Spartanburg, S.C., or 900 miles from Spartanburg to Kansas City, Krouslov was able to make the trip “from Russia with ease” – thanks to FFA!