On Tuesday evening, November 10th, the Connection held its annual meeting for
members, friends, and the Greater Waterville communities at the REM Center. Executive
Committee co-Chair Martha Patterson called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Martha gave the Annual Report which summarized the year's activities.
- 21st annual Russian Sampler, held at Colby College, March 2015. This one-day seminar
for area junior high and high school students featured classes on Russian fairy tales, icons, conversational Russian, a slide tour of
Kotlas, history topics, cooking, and a variety of crafts classes. The guest teacher
from Kotlas excited the students with a display of relics and bones from
archaeological digs in the Kotlas area. Two visiting Kotlas high school students led a
lively class on Russian folk dances. One Kotlas student painted ceramic figures with
her students; another Kotlas student discussed student volunteer activities at his
In addition to their Sampler teaching, our guests toured downtown Waterville, met
with Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro, visited several local schools, and spent a day
shadowing high school students in Winslow and Waterville. They were welcomed at
the State House by Governor LePage and toured Portland and the Maine coast
before their historical tour of Boston. Thanks to everyone who hosted and cared for
- March-May 2014: The Connection sponsored its 4th Russian film series as part of
the Mid-Maine Adult Education program. 31 local citizens watched and discussed
Russian comedy films and enjoyed a Russian meal at the conclusion of the series.
- April 2015: Co-Chairs Mary Coombs and Martha Patterson, Tessa Couture, Mark
Fisher, and Peter Garrett traveled to Kotlas to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the
two Sister Cities and to teach classes at the annual American Sampler. They all had
high praise for the eager, interested students at American Sampler and at the many
schools they visited during their Kotlas visit. Institutions visited included the
Medical College, the Pedagogical College, the pediatric rehabilitation center, one
high school, a boarding school for the children of railroad workers, and the
performing arts school. Our travelers enjoyed home-cooked meals at the homes of
Kotlas friends and previous Russian Sampler student guests and enjoyed a farewell
dinner with Kotlas Mayor, Andrei Bralínin. For everyone, the goodbyes were
bittersweet after a wonderful visit.
- June-July 2015: Kotlas Mayor Bralínin arrived with a delegation of City Council
deputies for a 25th Anniversary celebration in Maine. Their busy agenda included: a
trip to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor; an afternoon tea at the Blaine House,
hosted by Governor LePage and First Lady Ann LePage; a tour of the Maine State
Museum; a tour of Waterville, the Opera House, Two Cent Bridge, and the Hathaway
building; a public reception at the Waterville Public Library; a walk along the
Kennebec Messalonskee Trails; and an afternoon of poetry at Colby College. The
Waterville mayorís dinner at Josephís Fireside featured many warm toasts by
mayors Nick Isgro and Andrei Bralínin and an exchange of city gifts. Everyone
shared fondest memories of the past 25 years and hopes and plans for the future.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS AND EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS
The following slate of officers and members was approved by the membership:
CO-CHAIRS: Mary Coombs continues in the 2nd year of her two-year term.
Ellen Corey begins her two-year term as Co-Chair.
TREASURER: Carl Daiker begins a new two-year term as Treasurer.
SECRETARY: Sheila McCarthy continues in the 2nd year of her two-year term.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS begin one-year terms: Joe Couture, John Engle, Mark Fisher, Herb Foster, Phil Gonyar, Marilyn Hall, Pauline Mayhew, Martha Patterson
THANK YOU TO MARTHA PATTERSON
Co-Chair Mary Coombs expressed the membershipís sincere thanks to out-going Co-Chair Martha Patterson for her
energetic and unflagging work for every Connection activity and presented her with
a quilted bag as a gift from the Executive Committee. Mary also noted that Martha
will be celebrated at this yearís REM Volunteer Awards Ceremony.
Mary introduced our guest speaker, Suzanne Massie, for her talk
on the history of cultural exchanges between USSR/Russia and the US. Ms. Massie
spoke with great enthusiasm and energy about her years as an adviser to the
Reagan administration and her forceful nurturing of more and more cultural
exchanges during the difficult years of the Cold War. She delighted the audience
with personal reminiscences of meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev and other Soviet
foreign affairs leaders and her 40 years of people-to-people diplomacy. She
answered many questions from the audience and concluded with a firm exhortation
to the press in both countries to cease reporting that demonizes Russian and
American leaders, thus skewing public opinion in both countries toward negative
points of view. She made a final analogy, which captured the audienceís attention.
Russia, she said, can be likened to an aging and wise woman with vast life
experience, while the US is a brash and impatient teenage boy, who wants speed and
instant decisions. She hopes that their continuing meetings will bring increasing
points of intersection and understanding - thatís the way to start this unlikely new
ADJOURNMENT: Martha adjourned the meeting at 8:20 p.m. and invited everyone for refreshments and conversation.