40 years after its establishment as the Esalen Soviet-American Exchange Program, the program now called the Russian-American Project (RAP) continues to produce meaningful partnerships among leaders in Russia and the United States. In recent years, RAP has worked to understand and contextualize the worsening relations between Russia and the West through conferences held in New York, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. At these summits, RAP seeks pathways to saner and more amicable relations, and the potential for collaboration on issues of shared concern.
In September of 2017, core members of RAP met in Russia to prepare for the youth and diplomacy conference planned for the fall of 2018 in St. Petersburg, titled “Next Generation: A discussion of Russian-American Relations”. The conference will address a pervasive question - "Whom can we trust?" Members met with professors and graduate students from the European University at St. Petersburg (EUSP), along with Russian and American high school students on exchange. Students participated in discussions revealing issues they felt were most pressing in their generation, including topics like the flow of accurate information and government censorship. Through these discussions, RAP was able to develop and clarify topics for the coming conference. Further emphasis was placed on developing cross-cultural programming, including mapping out visits to key institutions and scheduling programming in the arts. Members also secured journalistic and film production partnerships to cover the events in 2018.