Mention “Russians” to most Americans and their mind recalls the endless scandals in the media, supposed election hacking, secret meetings, spies, and cliche Hollywood villains. There seems to be no shortage of negative light primed for maligning Russians. The truth about Russian people and their culture, which encompasses neighboring nations of the former Soviet Union, is that they are no different than us. They care about their families, work hard and have dreams of success and happiness. So why the presumed disconnect so prevalent in the media?
Perhaps the answer is in the contrast of the unique culture, history and traditions of Russian people. If you grew up in their world, it’s likely you would see things from their perspective, and appreciate rather than judge them. But how can an American, with no Russian friends or relatives connect with Russian culture?
The answer, including improved relations between our great nations, will not come from political influencers, the media or Hollywood. In fact, you can make an impact to improve US-Russian relations, in less than a minute and for very little money. Ready to change the world for twenty dollars? Read on.
The Secret to Better US/Russian Relations
The secret to changing your view of anything or anyone occurs by your experience with that person, group or organization. An opinion formed from a distance is never as accurate as one made face to face. Enter the Golden Gates performers, a group of young talented artists from Russia and Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and more. The performers are picked from public schools, cultural and performing arts centers from different countries. Touring nationally since 2003, Golden Gates and affiliate Moscow Nights Trio spend weeks on the road, covering twenty or more states at a time.
When the performers enter the room, their authentic costumes and festive music bursts into a lively mix of choreographed folk dances, songs and immersive participation. The young artists perform to an average of 50,000 people per national tour, many are school aged and have never heard a bayan or balalaika or a single word of the Russian language. By the end of the show, the dim view painted by the American media has been replaced with a more accurate and personal depiction of Russians as people, rather than a faceless agenda. You’ve heard love songs, humorous songs, elaborate lyrical suites, danced and connected with the essence of Russian culture—the simple concept of celebrating life. This is where the changes in international relations are impacted the most, more than any treaty or alliance. The face to face cultural exchange of people from two countries can pave the way to peace, collaboration and more.
Cultural Exchange is a Two Way Street
Just as audiences are exposed to Russian culture and traditions, the performers are also learning about life in America. They often stay with host families and experience local highlights as they travel from state to state. It’s a hard life with countless hours per day in transit, living on the road for weeks with multiple shows per day in some cases. The effort of the program director, Vitaliy Bezrodnov, is commendable, he organizes, drives and performs along with the students. Cultural exchange is a unique calling, especially for young foreign students far from home, but they know the value of their work and live for the time when they’re among new friends at the next show.
Help This Program Continue
If you think this sounds like a wonderful program, you’re correct! But, it’s time to talk about how you can help. Golden Gates has traveled coast to coast multiple times over the years and has racked up 360,000 miles on their van, which is now beyond repair. Without a vehicle, they cannot travel and perform, ending their valued cultural exchange across the country.
We’re asking our readers to consider the impact of their efforts and support them with a one time donation of $20 towards a new van. An electronic donation takes seconds but will make a benefit for all that lasts for years. If you can give more, or perhaps can only afford a little less, please click the link below and help change the world through continued cultural exchange that connects our nations.
Families and organizations wishing to become involved please contact Vitaliy Bezrodnov at: 216-214-0828 or [email protected]