Jr. Achievers Try To Sweeten Molasses Economy

Free-enterprise Lessons Taken To Moscow Stymied By A Bogged-down Economy

December 18, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

Kim Frock and Stephanie Wiegel want to make Junior Achievers out of communists.

More accurately, former communists who are looking forways improve their native economy. In Moscow schools, the Carroll residents showcased America's free-enterprise system before hundreds ofRussian teachers and students.

Neither Frock, a North Carroll High social studies teacher, nor Wiegel, a North Carroll senior, questioned their mission's success, but both said it would be some time before their counterparts could take advantage of their lessons.

That's not because of a lack of enthusiasm on either side, but rather the reality of a slow-moving and drained Russian economy. They predicted it would be months before the Russians receive necessary curriculum guides and books.

"I'm not sure the material will get to where it needs to be," Frock said. "I think we need to go and hand-deliver the stuff. That's the message I'm going to take back to national (Junior Achievement)."

Through Junior Achievement, business owners work with teachers to instruct students about real-life business situations.

Frock, Wiegel and Westminster businessman Melvin Mills, chairman of the county Junior Achievement, spent nearly two weeks in the crumbling Soviet Union this month ona good-will mission about the business-education program. The three were the only Maryland representatives among the 65-member U.S. delegation.

"I feel the need to go back and spend the summer," Frock said a day after returning from the two-week trip. "They want to know about Junior Achievement and our economic system. They're hungry to learn about it."

During their first classroom lesson, Frock and Wiegel worked with about 1,000 teachers and students to teach Management Economic Simulation Exercise, a computer-based program that allows students to gather data about establishing a company.

"Students really took to it," said Wiegel, 17. "They knew some of it. They really touched base with it. Children really understood a lot, and it will behelpful in the future."

They also worked with students in groups of consulting teams in a traditional Junior Achievement exercise, in which they learned how to set up a business, sell stock, conduct market research, produce a product and spend the profits.

In this instance, the product was a pencil.

"It'll take some time but I think in the long run, Junior Achievement will really help over there," Wiegel said. "They were enthusiastic about it."

But Frock questioned how students there actually would be able to buy raw materials and then sell the finished good at reasonable prices to consumers.

"We make something here and sell it for $3," she said. "I don't know how they're going to be able to do that."

The trip also provided the Carroll delegation insight into an alien economy.

"I took $375 with me and felt filthy rich," Frock said.

Frock said citizens there accepted waiting in long lines for consumer goods. Prices, she said, varied day to day. A can of Pepsi may cost 3 cents one day and $1 the next. Restaurants didn't have menus but offered patrons whatever was being made that day.

"You really learn to appreciate what we have here," she said.

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