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Kotlas-Waterville: Bridge of Friendship

In 2007, the Waterville Committee prepared a four-page brochure about our sister city pairing. Below is a translation of the text and scans of the pages. Click on any page image to enlarge it.

Cover of the Brochure. Click to enlarge.

The process of Kotlas and Waterville becoming sister cities began as a social movement: a group of US citizens (the majority were kids with their teacher) and 8th-grade pupils with their teacher Z.I. [Zina] Egorova and some grown-ups started corresponding with each other. It was interesting, unusual, new, and inspiring. American children with their teacher Mary Coombs and kids from Kotlas started to communicate, learning new things about each other. The kids' letters and packages and Russian souvenirs flew across the ocean. It was a big success.

A librarian from Colby College in the state of Maine, N.A. [Natalia] Kempers and a geologist, Peter Garrett, both US citizens, became the founders of that friendship with Kotlas. An engineer from Limenda, V.I. [Vyacheslav ("Slava")] Chernykh, was the first adult from Kotlas Also two employees of the Pioneer House, E.L. [Yelena] Chirkova and N.V. [Natalia] Khodenkova, supported the children. That was in 1988. A year later Kotlas people saw Garrett and his daughter Jessica and Kempers who received permission from Moscow and came to our city for the first time. The meeting turned out to be very warm and it began many communications by mail.

Page 2 of the brochure.

Top photo: Jessica Garrett, Peter Garrett, and Zina Egorova in April 1989. Bottom: The June 1990 delegation at Waterville City Hall, with Viktor Zverev (center) and David Bernier (right).

In 1990 the first official group from Kotlas was invited by the American side. The group that made the historical trip consisted of the chairman of the executive committee, V.P. [Viktor] Zverev, the chairman of the KID school No. 3, Z.I. Egorova, engineer V.I. Chemykh, and a journalist from Dvinskaya Pravda N.V. [Nikolai] Sheptyakov. During the weeklong visit, American hosts introduced their guests to all aspects of their society. In. June of 1990, the city of Kotlas and the city of Waterville became sister cities according to an agreement signed by Viktor Zverev and Waterville mayor David Bernier.

The light of friendship between our towns has never faded. Lots of amazing things have happened. On both sides committees were established: the Waterville Committee in Kotlas and the Kotlas Committee in Waterville. At the beginning, the chairman of our committee was Yu.A. Akishin. Then for many years E.N. [Yelena] Terekhova chaired The Waterville Committee. Our friendship was based and developed on educational, cultural, and humanitarian principles. In recent years The Waterville Committee community movement was founded; its first chairman was Z.I. Egorova, and now I.V. [Irina] Reznichenko, director of Lyceum No. 3, heads the Committee. The other active members of this friendship are English teacher L.N. [Lyuba] Zinovkina, veteran-teacher I.P. [Inna] Tushina, professor in the medical college V.B. Suhanovskaya, professor from the teachers' college T.A. [Tatiana] Shelygina, and doctor of science A.N. Bystrov.

Page 3 of the Brochure.

Top photo: The August 2005 delegation with members of the Waterville Committee. Center: Kotlas friends with the April 1991 delegation, which included four ninth-grade girls (front and center) from Winslow High School.

In the troubled time of perestroika, three graduates of School #3. Natalia Tarasova, Yelena Vologdina, and Anna Egorova, continued their education in the 12th grade at Winslow High School and got an American diploma with all good, high marks. Numerous times humanitarian aid was sent to Kotlas by Waterville citizens. In 1994 [actually 1992] a large shipment of hospital equipment, medical and school supplies, donated by the people of Waterville, was delivered. All this was brought to us by our good friends Patricia and David Hanson. This highly educated couple did a lot for the relations between our two towns. There are many other good friends across the ocean: Pauline and Jack Mayhew, Mary and Earl Coombs and their daughter Rene, and, of course, Philip Gonyar, one of the chairmen of the Kotlas Committee.

The most valuable part of this relationship is the communication among our children. In 1997-99 a joint environmental project "Our Rivers" was launched, which resulted in an exchange of groups of young environmentalists: 8 people from the American side and 12 from the Russian. At the campus of AGTU [Archangel State Technical University], a conference of young scientists was organized. It has become a nice tradition to send groups of young people from Kotlas to the annual Russian Days, held at Colby College in Waterville. (These young people are selected in an e-mail competition.) The similar Days of American Culture" takes place at the teachers' college.

Page 4 of the brochure.

Top photo: The Russian and American "Rivers Project" students at St. Mark's Church in Waterville in February 1999. Bottom: Jessica and Peter Garrett cut the ribbon to open a classroom museum to the sister city exchange in August 2005.

Over all these years, the city of Kotlas has regularly hosted American friends — teachers, doctors, journalists, librarians, and students. D. Bernier, the mayor of Waterville, came in 1991. Extensive cultural programs are prepared for them, including visiting old Russian towns Velikii Ustyug and Solvychegodsk. Memorable meetings took place in the town of Krasavino, the hometown of the Hero of Russia, Sergei Preminin, whose actions during a submarine accident saved thousands of lives on the east cost of USA. Also there were unforgettable trips to the town of Krasnoborsk, birthplace of the great painter Alexander Borisov, once a guest of the President of the United States. Colleagues at the House of Children's Creativity contribute greatly to the knowledge our guests gain here. The House of Culture, the art school "Gamma", the museum, the library, the theater, the Kotlas branch of AGTU all take part in building this relationship.

It is important to note the constant support of the city administration in all the sister city endeavors. In our people-to-people partnership, both families and artists take part. Our goal remains always the same — on the earth let there be Peace, Good Will, Enlightenment, and Friendship.

Credits: The original text is by Zina Yegorova, Lyuba Zinovkina, Irina Reznichenko, and Nicholai Sheptyakov; layout was by Pavel Nespanov. Sheila McCarthy translated the flyer and Gregor Smith added the descriptions of the photos.