The 2016 Slavic Festival was held in a spacious park in southeast Portland at the end of July. The family-friendly weekend festival attracted thousands of attendees, especially speakers of Russian, and featured musical entertainment by popular local Russian bands, a competitive volleyball tournament, foods for sale by local Russian markets, products for sale by local Russian artisans and merchants, and information tables set up by nonprofits with a Russian connection, such as the Portland Khabarovsk Sister City Association. PKSCA members staffed the "PKSCA Table" both days of the festival, fielding questions about the nature of a sister association and Portland's long-term partnership with Khabarovsk.
Bridge to Russia is an annual cultural celebration commemorating more than a quarter century of friendship and cooperation between Portland and its sister city in the Russian Far East, Khabarovsk. To mark the 28th anniversary, the gala event was held at Portland's Mississippi Pizza, which doubles as a popular pizza parlor and musical entertainment venue. It was at Mississippi Pizza back in 2015 that PKSCA President Alan Ellis first attended a performance by Three for Silver--one of Portland's most eclectic bands, featuring a blend of blues, rock, klezmer, and Eastern European music. Ellis subsequently encouraged the band to become actively involved with PKSCA as a possible springboard to performing in the Russian Far East. By 2016 the three multi-talented musicians comprising Three for Silver--Lucas Warford, Willo Sertain, and Greg Allison--had accepted an invitation from the PKSCA Board to represent Portland as delegates and performers at Khabarovsk's annual Day of the City Festival late in May. November's Bridge to Russia was not only a chance for PKSCA members and the public to experience the band's music, but also a unique opportunity to learn about the band's highly successful Day of the City goodwill trip (which took them to Vladivostok and Blagovaschensk as well) via a multi-media photo-narrative presentation by members of the band. Rounding Bridge to Russia entertainment was the powerful, spirited operatic singing of Russian soprano Anna Kazakova, accompanied by Nadezhda Ross on piano, with performances of both Russian and American classics to the delight of the enthusiastic mixed American and native-Russian audience.
Bridge to Russia in 2017 will be held at The Old Church in Portland, a venue with first-rate acoustics for musical performances and a charming dining area for enjoying Russian закуски (Russian appetizers) and beverages. Mark the date on your calendars: Sunday, November 5th, from 1:30-4:00 p.m.
The primary mission of PKSCA (as stated in our membership brochure under "What is PKSCA?") is to foster international friendship through cultural and educational exchanges and to facilitate social and economic ties between the citizens of our two communities. To that end, a top priority for PKSCA has been and continues to be organizing and sometimes sponsoring goodwill visitations to Khabarovsk. Information about some of the outstanding PKSCA-faciliated goodwill missions of the past can be accessed on this website via home page and via links to specific events and projects.
Entering into 2017, PKSCA is focused on facilitating two ongoing visitation programs: An academic homestay high-school exchange and a Day of the City delegation (which you can read about on the home page as well as via links).
The Franklin High School/Gymnasium #5 educational exchange program was the result of a 2014 face-to-face agreement between administration and staff at Gymnasium #5 and a visiting PKSCA Day of the City delegation. The program was patterned after a similar exchange program (Presidential Partnership Exchange) in the 1990s between Russian language students at Lincoln High School and English language students at Gymnasium #5. The first exchange visit of the current program took place in April of 2015, with a group of Gymnasium #5 students and staff member visiting Portland, lodging with Franklin H.S. families, attending classes at Franklin H.S., and being treated to a wide variety of excursions. Franklin H.S. Russian language teacher (and PKSCA member) Laura Stuble reciprocated with a group of her students traveling to Khabarovsk the following spring, and the second round of the exchange kicked off last fall with the arrival of another group of Gymnasium #5 students and teacher arriving in Portland for a three-week stay. Ms. Stuble and students plan to reciprocate again in the fall of 2017, and fundraising activities are already underway (which PKSCA logistical assistance from PKSCA).
One thing Russia and the U.S. still do agree on these days is the monumental role played by the Soviet people in the defeat of Hitler, an achievement commemorated annually in grandiose style in Russia during the holiday known as "The Day of Victory" or simply "The 9th of May". (It's very similar in tradition to America's 4th of July--patriotic parades and music, family picnics, fireworks, etc.) Accordingly, in the spirit of Russo-American cooperation and friendship, the Portland-Khabarovsk Sister City Association annually celebrates Victory Day with an event that features poignanrt narratives and poetry, festive music & danciing, Russian cuisine, and, in 2016, the showing of the classic award-winning Soviet WWiI film, "The Cranes are Flying".
The Portland Khabarovsk Sister City Association is supported and - in great regard - is validated by its membership. While specific projects might attract funding from USAID and other funding sources from time to time, the Association's general operating budget comes solely from membership dues. PKSCA would not exist without its all-volunteer Board of Directers and its membership dues. PKSCA membership is on a calendar-year basis, although the Association begins its membership drive every year at its Bridge to Russia event in October. PKSCA is a recognized 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All of our programs are funded by donors and grants, not by the City of Portland.