It is such a pleasure to see the good that is done when people of different cultures respectfully get together. The result is a realization of how much we have in common, not in difference. Harmony and mutual appreciation happen—and we learn so much.
I have the pleasure of being a member of the Los Angeles/St Petersburg Sister City Committee (LASPSCC) and presently its president. I love St. Petersburg, its history, its architecture, its art and culture, its people, and its role in today’s Russia. My favorite involvement is with the “babushkas” in St. Petersburg. A nonprofit group directly helps these deserving old ladies unable to get out and care for themselves. I have loved meeting some of these delightful women, heros all. One I met, at age 95 then, commanded artillery firing at the Nazi’s infamous 900 day bombardment of their city in 1941-43. Each week a helper shops for them, fixes meals that last for a few days, and tends to other needs.
Our committee was founded in 1989 and has raised money and helped orphanages, medical programs, and a home for veterans of the stage. We have brought over to L.A. teachers, lawyers, city officials, and others to learn more about how a city like Los Angeles works and governs an active democratic citizenship. We are helping a dedicated scholar to collect, preserve, and digitize the works of the great poet Anna Akhmatova. Now we are supporting a children’s art exchange.
The U.S. sister city program originated in 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed a people-to-people, citizen diplomacy initiative. Thanks, Ike. The Sister Cities is a wonderful and fun way to get together, gain knowledge and respect for each other. It is up to the individuals in the local communities. No government supervision is involved—it’s all about individual initiative and mutual care.