She wishes US `blue sky, bright sun, peace'
Katerina Lycheva has her own brand of superpower summitry. ``I wish you blue sky, bright sun, and peace,'' she tells a group of children at breakfast in a downtown Chicago hotel.
And now, on a hotel couch that dwarfs her, this poised, 11-year-old Soviet schoolgirl carries her message to the press.
``I think children must join their efforts to make peace,'' she says through a translator in a Monitor interview. ``And if I tell them as much as I can about the Soviet children, I feel that the Americans will get to know the Soviets and the children of the two countries will become friends. And if that happens, I shall feel that I have accomplished what I was out to accomplish.''
The trip by Katerina, or Katya, as she is called, is the first of its kind for the Soviet Union. Although her 12-day tour has official Soviet approval, it was actually planned and paid for by a private, nonprofit group in San Francisco, the Children of the Peacemakers Foundation.
``What we're doing is not religious. It's not political,'' says Patricia Montandon, the group's founder. ``We've struck a human chord in everybody. We've struck that child within every adult. And if we can call on that child and get rid of the ego, the game-playing, and really have forgiveness for ourselves and each other, we can have peace.''
It was Ms. Montandon's idea to sponsor Katya's trip in memory of Samantha Smith, the Maine schoolgirl who toured the Soviet Union in 1983 after writing then Soviet leader Yuri Andropov about her hopes for peace. Samantha was killed last summer in a plane crash.
Selected by Soviet children to represent them in the US, Katya is also scheduled to visit New York, Washington, Houston, and Los Angeles.
Besides visiting the school, Katya's Chicago stay included a trip to the city's Peace Museum and a McDonald's restaurant. Her favorite part of the trip so far? ``I liked the mayor of this city,'' she says in English. ``I think he likes children very much. And he's very kind.''
Though she sometimes relies on an interpreter, Katya's English is near-perfect. ``In America, I love children very much, because they look like our children,'' she says. ``They all want peace. And they all want to know more about our children.''
``It does help world peace,'' echoes Chicago sixth-grader Debbie Gora after hearing Katya speak. ``And maybe it will make President Reagan and Gorbachev, or whatever, realize the real meaning of peace.''