What’s New at Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Partnership

2015

Sister Cities Display at the Convention Center

 Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 1.45.02 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 1.44.40 PMThe Sister Cities in Cincinnati sponsor a rotating display in the lobby of Cincinnati’s Convention Center.  During October you can see artifacts from our exchanges with Kharkiv. 

2015

2015 Energy Efficiency Project

Six delegates from Kharkiv Ukraine, including Vice Mayor Ihor Terekhov, will visit Cincinnati from May 26th to June 4th to meet with energy efficiency experts from both the public and private sectors. Most of the  delegates are involved in energy efficiency related work in Kharkiv, and the focus of this project, which is funded by USAID and the U.S. Department of Energy is to exchange ideas and learn more about energy efficiency and alternative fuels. The delegation will visit energy efficient fire and police facilities, the Universities  of Cincinnati and Dayton, and also tour leading local energy design companies, and businesses that operate facilities and buildings featuring zero or very low net energy consumption technologies. In keeping with the theme of the visit, the delegation will be lodged at the new Hampton Inn/Homewood Suites in the recently renovated former Cincinnati Enquirer building downtown. the building is a candidate for LEED certification.

Also included on the itinerary for the delegation will be a program at the Duke Energy Envision Center and tours of waste to energy generation facilities and Greater Cincinnati Water Works and Metropolitan Sewer District facilities. In addition, the delegation is expected to visit Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and City Council representatives to further enhance the 25 year  Sister City relationship between Cincinnati and Kharkiv.

2014

2013 Local Government Exchange

The Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister Cities Project completed a Regional Government Exchange project in the fall of 2013 which involved delegation visits to both cities during the year. This self-funded exchange began in March 2013 when Vladimir Bulba (Open World Alum 2009) selected a group of five mature and experienced mayors and administrators from the Kharkiv region and escorted them to Cincinnati for 10 days of local governance programming in Wilmington, Ohio and the Cincinnati suburbs.  Thanks to an Open World Leadership Center invitation, five members of that group joined Open World’s Washington, DC program for their introductory program on US governance, prior to coming to Cincinnati.

Three months later (June 2013) CKSCP hosted Open World’s “Accountable Governance” program. The June delegation was made up of young administrators from the Kharkiv region – a contrast to the more experienced and mature March delegation.  Both programs in Cincinnati went well.  When it was time to select the Cincinnati area delegation, CKSCP considered professional characteristics and needs of both Kharkiv delegations before selecting 5 administrators from Wilmington and the Cincinnati suburbs to conclude this first exchange.   

October 15-24, 2013: Cincinnati delegation in Ukraine.

Delegates chosen by CKSCP, with Vladimir’s approval, were:

1.      Randy Riley, Mayor of Wilmington, Ohio (where the March group spent one day.)

2.      Tom Moeller, City Manager of Madeira, Ohio

3.       Mike Burns, City Manager (ret.) of Indian Hill, Ohio

4.       Bob Derge, Jr., Clinton Co, Health Commissioner (ret.)

5.       Susan Neaman, President, CKSCP

The program focused on 3 cities in the Kharkiv Oblast: Solonysivkva, Chuguiv and Merefa.  CKSCP had hosted the Mayors of each city in March.  Sister City “Partnership” agreements were signed between the 3 Ukrainian cities and the cities of Madeira and Wilmington.  Everywhere the Cincinnati delegates visited they were warmly greeted – often with a Ukrainian choir singing traditional songs.

In Solonysivkva the group visited laminated panel and soap factories, an elementary school, an afterschool club academy and City Hall.  In Chuguiv they visited an orphanage, a park, the railroad station and several museums.  In Merefa they visited a glass factory, a daycare facility, a school, and a history museum.

 On the last two days of the trip the group had meetings at the Kharkiv Regional Administration and Council, where mayors from other small town and cities, not part of this exchange, politely complained that they were not included in the working exchange!  The Public Administration Institute of Kharkiv State University was part of the last day’s visits and, finally, there was a meeting at Kharkiv City Hall with city officials.

 The conclusion is that the trip was successful and that the stage is set for our exchanges to continue.  The Cincinnati delegation not only worked well together, but the delegates were popular and respected by their Ukrainian hosts.  CKSCP, along with Vladimir Bulba, were able to develop partnerships for change that were not thought possible with the current City of Kharkiv regime.

 CKSCP receives requests from its Open World “Accountable Governance” alumni to reach out to even more Ukrainians.  A recent request to host 15-20 Kharkiv high school students explained that there is a “lack of interest and understanding in Kharkiv’s schools about governance, voting and the role that volunteers play in community services, and in a democracy.”  CKSCP is always ready to help, but must explain that as an all-volunteer organization it must fundraise in order to organize and implement such programs as the recent  Regional Government Exchange and the Teenage Community Service exchanges of 2010 and 2011.

2012

ReArt/World Garden Art Exchange

ReArt is the working title of an international image exchange that has been operating among Cincinnati’s Sister Cities since 2005. The original concept was conceived of and refined by Jan Brown Checco of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, and Gabi Stolz of Munich, Germany. The first project—“A Change of Perspective”—included 18 professional artist partners from Cincinnati and Munich and generated 180 original works of art which were exhibited in 4 cities from 2005–2007.

The next application of the process—“Triangular Drawings”—included 18 artists from Cincinnati, Munich and Liuzhou, China, and generated 234 drawings. The ReArt traveled the globe, exhibiting in Ohio, Germany and China. In 2008, this project was awarded the “Innovation in the Arts” prize from Sister Cities International.

The most recent incarnation of the process—“ReArt/World Garden”—includes 12 artists from Cincinnati and Kharkiv, Ukraine. The resulting 84 images has culminated in a gallery feature at the “Butterflies of the World 2012” show at Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati, an event that annually attracts more than 90,000 visitors. The artists are excited to share what they have discovered with the audience: that meaningful communication through art creates new relationships and that imagery can overcome barriers typically imposed by disparate languages.

A book was created for the show and is available for purchase at Blurb.com.

You can learn more about the artists and see their work for the project at Re-Art.cincy-kharkiv.org.

The exhibition and the Butterfly Show run from April 21 – June 24, 2012 and is
open daily 10:00am – 5:00pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $4 for children, and children 4 and under are FREE!

2010

Ukrainians Come to Madeira

Contributed By: Susan Hill, Cincinnati.com article 6/21/10

If the Iron Curtain were still hanging, these six would not be in Madeira. Oleksandr Bezuglyy, Olena Bozhenko, Olga Fedchenko, Maryna Kotsura, and Anhelina Rusanova are young Ukrainian community leaders participating in the Open World Program in Cincinnati this week. Vasyl Romanyuk is the delegation’s facilitator. The goal of the Open World Program is for emerging Eurasian political and civic leaders to work with their U.S. counterparts to experience American-style democracy at the local level.

Their visit to the United States began with meetings with Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio, the staff of Senator George Voinovich, and District 2 Representative Jean Schmidt in Washington, DC earlier this week. Later in the week, they met the staff of District 1 Representative Steve Driehaus in his Carew Tower office in Cincinnati.

The Open World Program is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress to build mutual understanding between the United States and Eurasia. Over 15,000 Open World participants have been hosted in all 50 states since the program’s inception in 1999. Delegates range from members of parliament to mayors, from innovative nonprofit directors to teachers to experienced journalists, and from political party activists to regional administrators.

The Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Partnership hosted the Cincinnati portion of the trip. The organization has facilitated the exchange of some 3,000 Ukrainians and Americans between the two countries. Accountable Governance and Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Development is the theme for this particular exchange.

The Ukrainian visitors met with Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, Madeira City Manager Tom Moeller, and Columbia Township Administrator Mike Lemon and were able to ask questions through Sasha Etlin, a professional interpreter who lives in Anderson Township and the facilitator, Romanyuk. They also visited non-profits to understand how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) enhance the health, productivity, and lifestyles of local communities. Sites included Media Bridges, the Cincinnati Zoo, Save the Animals Foundation, Xavier University, Nativity School, Lighthouse Youth Services and United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

According to Romanyuk, one highlight was witnessing actual arrests being made by Cincinnati Police officers on a two hour ride along in a police cruiser. For Olga Fedchenko, whose husband is an ex-intercontinental professional boxer, it was visiting a golden gloves gym. She talked to boxing promoters about her husband’s interest in a week long boxing exchange where boxers from both countries would train together then compete in a championship. Fedchenko spoke on the live radio program Real Talk 1160 with Andy Furman about boxing.

Following the meeting with Madeira City Manager Tom Moeller, Olga Fedchenko presented Moeller with a personal invitation from her father, Vlodimir Bulba, to visit the city of Kharkiv for a symposium with managers and mayors of small cities. Bulba visited Cincinnati last October. See photo.

Jay DeWitt, of Madeira, who coordinated the host program, believes “The world is growing smaller every day. It is imperative that we learn to understand the cultures of other peoples and help them to understand ours.”

According to Romanyuk, who studied in Pennsylvania and in Edinborough, that is exactly what the program is doing.

“This program has Ukrainian civic and public servants acting as envoys of goodwill. They bring pride of their culture to the American people. They bring a human touch. They are experiencing what is noteworthy in the lives of average Americans while sharing the Ukrainian experience with them,” Romanyuk said.

Jay and Sue Hanson are hosting Oleksandr Bezuglyy and Vasyl Romanyuk in their Madeira home. Staying in an American home, rather than a hotel, allows the delegates to experience American family life.

“I went to Ukraine as teacher and stayed with a family,” Jay Hanson explains.

“I realized it was important to get to know people in their own homes. It’s been fun. These guys are really great. We took them to Red Lobster for dinner last night because they had never had lobster before. My wife is from New England and is an expert lobster cracker so she showed them how to do it. They got dirty and loved it.” Hanson said.

The delegates and their host families will attend a final farewell dinner hosted by Dominick and Sandy Ciolino in their Madeira home. Though they are were not involved in the program before they were asked to host the dinner, they say they are excited to share Madeira’s spirit of goodwill with the Ukrainian guests.

“We aspire to hold a vision of a world without borders or boundaries. As American neighbors, we share an openness to the world and trust that hosting this event is an expression of hospitality and a desire to build cross-cultural relationships,” the Ciolinos said.

At a wrap up discussion held Thursday night in Wyoming at Ascension Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, the Ukrainians unanimously judged the experience a success, Romanyuk stated.

“It was full of fun professional development and personal improvement with a good deal of emotional charge. Everyone is ready to go back home to do something that they would like to do. The beauty of this program is that it triggered some of the long range plans that they long dreamed of trying. They now have the strength and courage to embark on activities and long-dreamt plans,” Romanyuk said.

As a member-partner in the CKSCP enterprise, you can help us continue to deliver positive and beneficial exchanges and programs for the people of Ukraine. Now as much as ever.