When we first heard of the arrival of delegates from Montclair’s sister city, Cherepovets, Russia, many expressed surprise that we had such a relationship. But the presence of Viacheslav Pozgalev, Governor of Vologda region; Leonid Iogman, First Vice-Governor of Vologda region; Oleg Kuvshinnikov, Mayor, City of Cherepovets, Vologda region and Vladimir Lepeshichev, Head of Governor’s Secretariat, Vologda region (interpreter) was undeniable in town, as they spent time with government and community members to help strengthen the relationship between the two cities.
During a brief press conference yesterday at Montclair’s Municipal Building, the delegates described their history with Montclair and their eventful trip. “Thank you for the invitation, it was my first time here,” explained Mayor Kuvshinnikov. “I like the township very much. It is quite different from our city, a lot of green trees and a lot of hospitable people live here. I am very glad to have the opportunity to meet the local people,” he continued. “The warmth of the city, the hospitality of everyone impressed me the most. Edgemont Park and the Iris Garden, even though the flowers aren’t blooming, were my favorite,” Kushinnikov continued.
Montclair’s relationship with the Cherepovets began in the 1990s, when Montclair was an important force in helping the Cherepovets people transition to a free market economy, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. A liaison was established and has since been maintained. “Our sister cities and other international initiatives help us maintain a global perspective on community life,” says Montclair Mayor, Jerry Fried. “We can learn a lot from both our commonalities and differences.”
Exploring cultural differences in Baristaville is just what our Russian delegates did.
Their trip began with a car tour around Montclair. The next three days were spent visiting the Liberty Science Center, Ground Zero, the Montclair Iris Garden, the Montclair Art Museum, and Montclair State University, where the delegates discussed the possibility of student, cultural, and sporting exchanges with the Provost, Willard Gingerich, and several deans at the University. The delegates’ final dinner in Baristaville took place last night at the Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange.
Despite their substantial traveling, the Russian delegates were able to sit down with Mayor Fried, the Chief of Police and Fire, and the planning board to discuss the future partnerships between the cities, and a possible visit to Cherepovets by Mayor Fried in June.
Optimistically, Kushinnikov states, “I hope my visit will set the stage for collaboration. I do hope we will strengthen our relationship and the mayor will make a reciprocal visit to our city.”
Hopefully this will not be the last we hear about our sister city, Cherepovets, but for now we say до свидания (do svidaniya), or goodbye.