Two Cent Bridge Kotlas - Waterville Area
Sister City Connection
P.O. Box 1747
Waterville, ME 04903-1747
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Street in Kotlas

On March 19, 2014, the Mid-Maine Global Forum luncheon meeting at the REM Center in Waterville featured a talk and slide presentation about the 24-year history of the Sister City relationship between the City of Kotlas and the Waterville area. Connection members Phil Gonyar and Carl Daiker narrated a brief photographic history of the establishment of the Sister City relationship, beginning from the initial visit to Kotlas by Connection founders Natalya Kempers and Peter Garrett and the first official delegation from Kotlas to visit Maine. The four members of this first delegation - then Kotlas mayor Viktor Zverev, Kotlas resident Vyacheslav Chernyx, teacher of English Zinaida Egorova, and newspaper correspondent Nikolai Sheptyakov - have remained loyal friends and pen pals to the Connection for the past 24 years.

Carl and Phil's photographs and commentary documented the many visits between the two cities and the many changes that have happened in Kotlas since the early days of visits. They spoke about the 20+ hours on the train from Moscow to Kotlas, the many happy visits to Kotlas, the reunions with friends and pen pals, and the student exchanges sponsored by the Connection. Everyone in the audience was reminded of the anxious years of the Cold War when they heard the story of one of the first articles to appear in the Kotlas newspaper after an early visit. Journalist Nikolai Sheptyakov wrote about the desire of both cities for peace and mutual understanding and highlighted the importance of people-to-people diplomacy in an article which he entitled "We Can't Bomb Phil," referring to Phil Gonyar, then Chair of the Connection and a frequent visitor to Kotlas.

At the end of the presentation, Carl and Phil introduced the teacher of English and the two students from Kotlas, who were visiting Maine and teaching at the Connection's annual Russian Sampler day for middle and high school students at Colby College. Teacher Anna Lobanova and students Anna Mityanina and Danil Osminin answered questions from the audience about their city, their families, the students' career plans, and their impressions of Maine during their visit.

At the Global Forum luncheon table, from the left: Kotlas teacher of English, Anna Lobanova; Connection Chair, Martha Patterson; presenters of the luncheon talk, Carl Daiker and Phil Gonyar; Kotlas high school students, Anna Mityanina and Danil Osminin.