Meeting with Ambassador Beryle is an honor. I was struck by his sincerity and interest in everything I had to say. As a token of my appreciation for meeting with me, I brought him one of my favorite childhood toys, Cheburashka—a Russian animation character and also a mascot of the Olympics in Russia.
From the Embassy, I went to the U.N. House to take part in a peer education session and reception. Joining me was Alexey Vorobyov, a Russian actor. I met with about eight kids—some of the most confident, intelligent young people I have ever seen. I was proud to see two of the PSI peer educators among this select group of kids. They were fantastic. I watched as they put together an improvised skit on HIV and then perform it for leaders of different U.N. agencies and the media.
These kids are future leaders of their country. It was the perfect way to end my trip, filled with hope and promise. Saying goodbye...
That evening, I shared a meal with my new friends from PSI Russia, the team from PSI in Washington, D.C., and the individual supporters who joined me on the trip. It was filled with a lot of tears, laughter and hope. Most of all, I am grateful for the chance to be part of an organization that is finding effective ways to reach young people and empower them and for being able to speak for all the young people I met along the way.
I feel like I am leaving Russia a stronger person than when I arrived a few short days ago, and more dedicated than ever.
I hope you will learn more about PSI at PSI.org. For as little as $10, PSI can help protect and educate a young person from HIV for an entire year.