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Member Spotlight: KC Creates

Posted By IRC, Friday, July 12, 2019

Kansas City Creates or KC Creates is a nonprofit organization that offers programming to support and celebrate arts and artists in Kansas City through artistic expression. Through strategic partnerships, KC creates offers live performing and visual arts events that go into the public and private cultural landscape of Kansas City with the mission “to empower a diverse array of educational and cultural events to inspire creativity and build bonds among audiences, artists, businesses, and civic organizations.” KC Creates has become more than just an organization providing opportunities for emerging and established artists and has created an inclusive arts community here in Kansas City.

KC Creates hosts KC Fringe, which is an international festival. KC Fringe stands as one of 40 Festivals held in the United States and over 200 worldwide, sharing the same universal principle, freedom of expression. KC Fringe is focused on highlighting the emerging artists in Kansas City and sold 24,000 tickets last year. This year, the Fringe festival runs July 14 through July 28.

On the horizon for KC Creates is a new event called Open Spaces KC. Open Spaces KC aims to bring established international artist to Kansas City to exhibit their talent. This program is set in place to help build and develop the international component for KC Creates and Kansas City as a whole. Open Spaces is a ten-week season which offers a rich experience of music, dance, and theater with a series of evening performances at selected venues all over Kansas City.

One challenge KC Creates is facing is that of emerging artists obtaining work visas. This is very challenging and cost prohibitive, but crucial to reach the full mission of KC Creates that relies on the international community sharing their talents with the Kansas City community.

KC Creates works with the IRC to help build its international connections. KC Creates is looking to build relationships, gain commonality, and find sponsors to bridge the gap between Kansas City and the international community. KC Creates is heavily dependent on volunteers and is always on the lookout for more. For more information, visit their website at, https://kccreates.org or email Cheryl Kimmi at ckimmi@kccreates.org.

                                            

The IRC spotlights our members and their diverse work and interests in the international space. To learn more or to indicate interest in being spotlighted in an upcoming post, please visit: http://www.irckc.org/page/MemberSpotlight.

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Holding Strong Political Views and Working for an Apolitical Non-Profit

Posted By IRC, Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Apolitical. Neutral. Non-partisan. When I first realized the apolitical aspect of the International Relations Council, I thought that it must be entirely possible to separate my political opinions from the work I would do. I was supposed to be educating people about international relations—politics didn’t have to be part of it. As it turned out, it was more difficult than I could have imagined. I found it incredibly difficult to take a program and remove any hint of political angle.

 

I never considered myself an activist. Never once in my life. Oh, I have plenty of opinions, don’t get me wrong. I can’t share them because this is an apolitical, neutral, non-partisan blog, but ask me about my research on my off-hours, and I will be more than happy to discuss what I believe. A political scientist for the first four years of my education and a student of international relations after that, I hold definitive beliefs. But I was never an activist; I was a scholar, a writer, an academic, a researcher. I wasn’t out raising money to donate to a cause, I wasn’t waiving signs in protest of an upcoming congressional bill, and I wasn’t holding rallies in support of one political candidate or another. I don’t like arguments, which usually means I keep my political opinions to myself. All I want to do, all I have ever wanted to do, is help people. I just want to make people happy, make their lives easier. I don’t want to stand out in the streets and protest, I don’t want to go down in history, I just want to help people who need it. How is that political?

 

But what I found is that a “political opinion” is not solely an opinion that says, “I am a Republican,” or “I am a Democrat.” A political opinion is anything that takes a clear stand in regard to anything political; the words “Republican” or “Democrat” don’t ever have to appear to make something political. The middle line, a beige line where there was no hint of blue or red, is what the IRC asked me to walk. That balancing act proved more challenging than I could have imagined.

 

Now, I’m your typical 22-year-old; straight out of university, fired up, and ready to change the world. The thing about us 22-year olds is that, well, we’re 22, and it can be really hard to get people to listen to us. Balance can be really hard for us. We have our opinions and beliefs and attitudes, and we’re ready to stand for them. We can be really intense, and that can be a turn off for a lot of people. It can push people away. Hellfire and ice don’t change minds. They may start movements, but without the right balance, the movements can fizzle out and be forgotten.

 

I am all about making the world a better place, and I want to raise awareness for certain issues and help people. My first few days as an IRC intern, I came in and I was all, “Let’s talk about the Arab-Israeli war, let’s talk about historic intervention in South America, let’s talk about representation.” I wanted to talk about the things that needed change. When Matthew Hughes, the Executive Director of the IRC, reviewed my ideas for IRC projects, he quickly, and in my case, repeatedly, explained the importance of the apolitical, non-partisan aspect of the IRC. And I couldn’t stand it. I took no issue with Matthew or the mission of the IRC; I just believed that it was our responsibility as an organization to be a torchbearer and to lead the way to positive change.

 

I will tell you, however, that I understand why Matthew places such a high level of importance on the apolitical, nonpartisan aspect of the IRC. The IRC includes a wide variety of viewpoints. It doesn’t leave anyone feeling excluded by choosing a political stance that is different from theirs. The IRC provides a platform for discussion, a safe place where people can comfortably express their own opinions. Society today needs that. In a world where having an agenda is taboo because it implies that a person is incapable of considering other viewpoints, people need to know that there are places they can be honest about what they believe without being ostracized or shut down. Places that do not have agendas, places that are open forums.

 

"Agenda" is not a four-letter word. Everyone has agendas. I have an agenda. I have lots of agendas. So do you. Having an agenda doesn’t say anything about you other than that you have something you care about. Agendas don’t have to be political. You can have an agenda about how you think your children should fold the laundry, or regarding how your parents should set later curfews. Agendas are just what a person believes should happen, and it is their plan to make those beliefs reality.

 

I believe in taking a stand. I believe it is my job, in the long run, to take a clear stand and say, “I don’t believe this is right.” But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the IRC. I wouldn’t have been kept on as an intern if I didn’t. I believe Matthew is right. There are other organizations that take those stands, that make those statements, that have politically agenda-oriented programs. That is what I want to do with my career. But society does not have a lot of educationally agenda-oriented organizations, like the IRC. And that is why I have chosen to stay as an intern, even if there are some things with which I struggle to come to terms; I believe there is a need in society for programs like the IRC, even if such a program is what I want to do long-term.

 

The IRC is making a difference. It is saying that discussions are okay. It is saying that opinions are okay. It is saying that openly stating beliefs, holding beliefs that aren’t “mainstream,” and listening to the beliefs of others is okay. And society needs that. The IRC is changing how Kansas City looks at international relations, and how people look at the beliefs of others.

 

About the Author
Abigail Phillips is a Global and International Studies master’s candidate at the University of Kansas where she studies the Middle East, representation, and political discourse. She currently serves as a summer 2019 events intern for the IRC.

 

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Member Spotlight: GKC People to People

Posted By IRC, Monday, July 1, 2019
Updated: Friday, June 28, 2019

President Eisenhower’s idea of achieving peace through understanding was the principle behind People to People International (PTPI). PTPI was founded on September 11, 1956 under the U.S. Information Agency as a personal diplomacy program, operating under three main principles: humanitarian work, cultural exchange, and global education. The idea of achieving peace without government interference, but rather with everyday citizens, was the foundation. As the president of Greater Kansas City People to People, Zahid Awan put it, “You cannot bring the peace without direct relationships with the people, like students to students, doctors to doctors, army officers to army officers, people to people.” On October 31, 1961, PTPI was taken into the private sector as a not-for-profit organization in Kansas City, Missouri, moving the headquarters from Washington, DC.

PTPI is the mother organization to Greater Kansas City People to People (GKCPTP). It is now one of more than 200 chapters located throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States. GKCPTP citizen ambassadors have a mission to promote international understanding by building bridges and establishing connections. One program GKCPTP is involved in is the International Military Student Sponsorship program with Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, a U.S. Army installation, invites a group of international military students from allied nations to participate in a 12-month training program. Each foreign officer and their family is assigned three sponsors, one being an officer from GKCPTP. These officers offer hospitality, comfort, and make Kansas City feel like home while building a mutually beneficial relationship.

GKCPTP and International Relations Council share similar objectives of building global awareness and education in Kansas City. GKCPTP’s ongoing vision is to expand by getting more individuals, schools, and universities involved in the organization. “I see great success in opportunities and good things ahead for this organization,” said Zahid Awan.

You can get involved with Greater Kansas City People to People by becoming a member, sponsoring an officer, or donating on their website: https://www.gkcptp.org/.

                                                        

 

The IRC spotlights our members and their diverse work and interests in the international space. To learn more or to indicate interest in being spotlighted in an upcoming post, please visit: http://www.irckc.org/page/MemberSpotlight.

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Addressing the Undefeated Battle of the Refugee Crisis

Posted By IRC, Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Throughout the centuries, the refugee crisis has been an issue that many generations have tried to solve. With each passing decade, the refugee crisis seems to be increasing more than ever before. According to the UNHCR, there are 65.6 million displaced people living in the world today (unhcr.org). The U.N. broke those statistics down and confirmed that 22.5 million are refugees; 17.2 million refugees are under the UNHCR mandate and 5.3 million are Palestinian refugees registered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). 10 million people are not recognized by any states, and only 189,300 refugees were resettled in 2016 (unhcr.org). The refugee crisis has gone undefeated in the past generations and is still holding a championship position in our modern history. The civil war in the Middle East and South Sudan has been one of the largest drivers of the global refugee crisis, which has left a million people displaced. Inside and behind the facts are people filled with tears and unique life experiences hoping for a better future and dreaming for a better day. They are adults with a desire to return home, youth crying and willing to work again, and children trying to bring back the childhood that has been stolen from them. This is the story of many people who have been displaced and many lives in the Kansas City area from every corner of the world.

The ongoing violence in Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and other countries has resulted in 30 million desperate people seeking safety and a new start in other countries (unhcr.org). Since 2011, in Syria, over 12 million people have fled their homes, with almost five million refugees sheltering in neighboring countries that are struggling to support them. Marta Pachocka explained how this crisis overwhelms other intergovernmental organizations. She said, “For several years now, and particularly since 2014, the European Union has been experiencing a crisis in the field of international migration, asylum, and external border management." This is how dangerous the crisis is: the European Union is overwhelmed. The United Nations and other countries have tried to hold conversations to talk about conflicts and the civil war in Syria. Unfortunately, those conversations were unsuccessful to stop the fighting in Syria. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a refugee agency within the United Nations which was established in 1950, during the aftermath of the Second World War, to help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes. They had only three years to complete the refugee work and then disband the refugee agency; but, after 68 years, the refugee agency has still not yet been able to accomplish its mission because of the rising refugee crisis. Those statistics show us how much the refugee crisis has been increasingly overwhelming to our generation. As a refugee myself, I am concerned with those statistics, because if they keep rising, it may lead to the increase of the majority of the refugees being women, young people, and children.

This refugee crisis might live forever if we are unable to solve it today. This issue might increasingly overwhelm the next generation if we do not play a role in finding a solution to this situation that has led not only me to spend my entire childhood in a refugee camp without a playground in my backyard or in my schools, but also many people young people and children who are still struggling in the refugee camps.

 

About the Author
Engoma Fataki is a junior studying Political Science and International Studies with a minor in Peace and Conflict Resolution at Missouri Western State University, where he was elected as Student Body President for 2019-2020. He is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He and his family lived in refugee camps in Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. He currently serves as a summer 2019 events intern with the IRC.

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Member Spotlight: Glory House Services

Posted By IRC, Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Glory House Services began when Idalbert Joseph, the founder and CEO, moved from Haiti to Kansas City and noticed that there were little to no resources for the Haitian community here. He then partnered with the University of Missouri – Kansas City to begin teaching the Creole language in addition to Haitian culture and traditions and from there the organization grew to include other services both in Kansas City and also in Haiti.

 

Joseph’s heart remains in Haiti, where he and the organization devote much of their time and resources to improve the lives of those living in impoverished areas with limited resources. Glory House Services does this primarily through educational services for Haitian communities. At the start of these services, the organization funded teachers in one community, paying each teacher $25 per month. Today, Glory House Services pays 21 teachers in three different locations, each teacher receiving $50 per month, double the salary they began with. In an area with very little, this salary provides so much for these teachers and their families. Teachers are paid from donations given to the organization and because of this, children in the communities are able to attend school for free, receiving the education they likely would not have been given the opportunity to experience without the support of the organization.

 

The biggest project that Glory House Services is currently working toward is creating their own community in Haiti. The goal of this project is to act as a community center that can house 40-50 families. They would like it to consist of a guesthouse for those visiting and also other buildings for the families to live in. Idalbert Joseph and Thomas Burns, the president of the organization, look forward to building something permanent for the families in this isolated area. It is a huge undertaking, not only financially with the project costing upwards of $350,000 but also logistically, as most of the resources will need to come from the capital of Haiti and be transported to the northwest area where the community will be located.

 

In the end, however, it all comes down to the mission of Joseph and the other organization leaders. The mission of Glory House Services can be summed up by the words of the founder and CEO himself. Joseph states, “We try to be a difference maker in this area.” His team is committed to the well-being of the people of Haiti, that they would receive proper support and opportunities. This care is evident by the works and goals of Joseph and Burns, the other organization members, and all who support through volunteering and donations.

 

Glory House Services has many events throughout the year to inform and teach about Haitian culture and also events to aid in raising the money necessary to complete this project and to maintain the work they are already doing. They participate in the annual Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival, symposium, fundraising Gala in the fall, a picnic day in partnership with other organizations, and language courses throughout the year.

 

If you are interested in learning more about the organization, please visit their website at www.gloryhousekc.org.

 

                                                   

The IRC spotlights our members and their diverse work and interests in the international space. To learn more or to indicate interest in being spotlighted in an upcoming post, please visit: http://www.irckc.org/page/MemberSpotlight.


 

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Kansas City Latino History and Culture

Posted By IRC, Monday, June 3, 2019

Eight years ago, my life became intimately intertwined with the Latino community for the first time. I had recently accepted a job with the Univision affiliate in Kansas City, managing sales for the global Spanish-language television network. Although I was hired to sell the Latino culture and what it represented to advertisers, I was swiftly sold myself. Quickly, I became immersed in the Hispanic community, becoming familiar with neighborhoods like Argentine, Armourdale, and Rosedale. These communities served as havens to a wave of immigrants when Kansas City became a hub for railroad expansion at the turn of the century.

Although Mexican laborers played an important role in Kansas City’s development, they were often met with discrimination. Mexican children were not allowed into certain schools. Their parents were exploited in the workforce and were often refused services at hospitals and government agencies.

As the need for basic services within the Mexican community grew, Guadalupe Center opened its doors in 1919, becoming one of the first social service agencies in the nation. Over the past 100 years, the organization has improved the lives of countless individuals.

Another organization that has touched the lives of many Latinos in Kansas City is the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In 1958, Hector Barreto Sr. arrived from Guadalajara, Mexico. His first job was picking potatoes for 50 cents an hour. He later worked in a packinghouse and as a school custodian. Barreto had big dreams, however – not only for his family, but also for the entire Hispanic community. Eventually, he became a successful restauranteur and, in 1977 along with other Latino businessman, founded the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City (HCCGKC). Under Barreto’s leadership, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was chartered in 1979, making Kansas City the birthplace of the national Hispanic Chamber. This rags-to-riches story is truly remarkable. Not only would Barreto go on to serve as the President of the national Hispanic Chamber, he was also appointed to President Ronald Reagan’s transition team in 1980.

Over the past four decades, HCCGKC has tutored and groomed scores of business owners. Hispanics are an entrepreneurial bunch. Nationwide, they are 1.5 times more likely than the general population to start a small business, and Latina-owned businesses are growing five times faster than any other group. This spirit of entrepreneurialism and innovation doesn’t just positively impact the Hispanic community; it benefits Kansas City and the nation as a whole.

In 2013, I was elected to serve on HCCGKC’s board, where I’ve had the honor to follow such trailblazers as Barreto. I’ve also had the honor to serve for and alongside, among others, Chileans, El Salvadorians, Brazilians, Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans, and Bolivians. Kansas City’s Latin American community is comprised of a rainbow of multiculturalism.

While I’ve since moved on from Univision, I haven’t moved on from the Latino culture. Recently, I took a trip to Santiago, Chile, with my significant other, whom I met through HCCGKC. The combination of compassion and commerce – a mirror of Guadalupe Center and HCCGKC’s work – is on full display in Santiago. We toured the Sanctuary on San Cristobal Hill, where Pope John Paul II prayed and blessed the city in 1987; and we visited Garmin’s Santiago office, a sleek, modern skyscraper overlooking the majestic Andean mountains.

As I reflected on the stunning views, I came to the realization that the core pillars of hard work, determination, compassion, and collaboration is essential to succeed. This is true for global companies such as Garmin, expanding their footprint. It is true of migrants from Mexico. And it is also true of our communities in general.

I am hopeful that we can apply lessons learned from Kansas City’s history – both the good and the bad – to become a beacon for compassion and commerce and to offer a bridge when waters are troubled, so others facing challenges can rise to the heights that Barreto achieved. A rising tide truly lifts all boats, regardless of their entry point.

About the Author
Chelan David is a board member of the International Relations Council. Chelan graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and currently serves as the director of development for Youth Volunteer Corps. Prior to YVC, he worked at Univision where he launched D’Latinos, a local community program that gives leaders a platform to address important issues impacting the Hispanic community in Kansas City. Chelan plays an active role in the Latino community serving on the board of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.


 

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Member Spotlight: Alan Felton

Posted By IRC, Monday, May 27, 2019
Updated: Thursday, May 23, 2019

Alan Felton, a dual United States and Australian citizen, is a proud husband, father, grandfather, and entrepreneur. In the 1970s and 1980s, he established a modest export business from Australia to the U.S. with animal health products. In 1989, he moved to the U.S. with his family to develop Felton Medical, Inc. Felton Medical was established to act as a marketer, warehouse, and importer of animal health products such as health devices and nutraceuticals throughout the United States and other countries. Ten years later, in 1999, Alan founded Pulse Needlefree Systems, Inc. as a spinoff venture of Felton Medical. The core technology was a complicated technical transfer from the Russian Military. Pulse Needlefree Systems was a team of 15 individuals, including several Russian nationals, working towards developing and marketing needle-free injection systems for animals and humans. Alan has not been active in Pulse since 2003, and Felton Medical was sold in May 2008. Now, Alan is the President of Felton Associates, LLC, founded in2008. Felton Associates is a strategic consulting, business planning, and marketing development company in agriculture business and life science. A key customer has been the King Techina Group of Hangzhou, China.


Alan, a member of the International Relations Council, has had an interest in international relations for many years. He enjoys traveling, seeing the world, and experiencing new cultures. He has traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, China, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Mexico, and Poland. Apart from Alan’s curiosity for different cultures, his business ventures have helped pave the way to many culturally significant experiences across the world. Felton Medical, Pulse Needlefree Systems, and Felton Associates have had, to a degree, a business connection tied to the global space. For example, Pulse Needlefree Systems required technology from Russia which was challenging and time-consuming to obtain. To deal with two different government styles, one must recognize the difference in regulations and the overall culture of a business. This experience emphasized the importance and need to be aware and knowledgeable of cultural differences in both a personal and professional space. In 1989, Alan chose Kansas City as his new home for himself, family, and business. 41 years later, he still believes it was one of the best decisions he has made, stating, “I have made some bad calls over the years, but the decision to locate and live here (KC) was one of the best.”

                                               

The IRC spotlights our members and their diverse work and interests in the international space. To learn more or to indicate interest in being spotlighted in an upcoming post, please visit: http://www.irckc.org/page/MemberSpotlight.

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The "Good Earth" of China

Posted By IRC, Monday, May 13, 2019

It's no secret that China has cornered the market on manufacturing – particularly that of cutting-edge technology such as Apple's iPad and iPhone. But just why this is so seems to require more of an answer than just China's cheap labor – neighboring Asian countries such as Vietnam and Thailand boast similarly low-cost and highly motivated work forces but fail to attract high-tech manufacturers at a similar rate. Another more comprehensive answer suggests that China's flexible and dedicated manufacturers may be more efficient than that of competing nations, but it still may be missing key details. An article by Elizabeth Chamberlain suggests that China's near total monopoly on rare earth elements may play a significant role in luring electronics companies into doing business in the country.

Rare earth elements are found in nearly all modern consumer electronics, and as demand for everything from smartphones to televisions continues to grow so does demand for these minerals. Controlling an estimated 95-97% of all rare earth minerals, China has nearly total say over their distribution and has elected to increasingly restrict access to the domestic market through tight export quotas. For the moment this means that American electronics companies find it more expedient to base their manufacturing in China and thereby skirt export quotas. In the face of a potential rare earths shortage, the United States has already lodged a complaint about China's rare earth trade policies with the World Trade Organization.

Do you think growing attention and resistance to China's domination of the rare earth minerals market will alter the growth of the country's manufacturing sector? Or do you think that this is only one small piece of the Chinese business package?

                                   


About the Author
Ashton Adams was an intern at the IRC during the summer of 2012. This post was republished from an article Ashton originally wrote for the IRC blog on May 21, 2012. 

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Member Spotlight: Ethnic Enrichment Commission

Posted By IRC, Monday, May 6, 2019

The Ethnic Enrichment Commission (EEC) was established in 1976 to focus public attention to the rich cultural heritage and diversity of the Kansas City area. Today, the EEC continues to foster and encourage understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity by celebrating ethnic identity through programs and events such as the Ethnic Enrichment Festival, the Diplomatic Ball, the American Royal Parade, Brookside Parade, as well as various outreach opportunities throughout the area.

The EEC outreach program, the foundation of the EEC, aims to stay current by participating in school presentations, festivals, civic organizations, and business venues throughout the Kansas City area. The outreach program committee works as a communication avenue between the community and the EEC. This presents new and diverse ideas from the members of the community, which helps shape proposed event ideas, the feasibility, and availability of member participation.

The Ethnic Enrichment Festival is one of the largest events of the EEC and is put on for the community by the community, with hundreds of volunteers from over 66 countries and ethnic groups coming together to showcase their heritage and cultures to the Kansas City area. Jim Wilson is the manager of the Ethnic Enrichment Festival, which is hosting the 40th annual festival on August 16-18, 2019. Jim is a proud husband and father of three that took his interest in different cultures towards his education. It was his curiosity that took him to Turkey for a semester abroad in high school and later to Norway for a semester in college. This experience grew his interest which translated to numerous trips overseas, including Malaysia and Indonesia.

To learn more or get involved with the EEC or the Ethnic Enrichment Festival, visit www.eeckc.org.

 

                                                        

The IRC spotlights our members and their diverse work and interests in the international space. To learn more or to indicate interest in being spotlighted in an upcoming post, please visit: http://www.irckc.org/page/MemberSpotlight.


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Member Spotlight: Russian Heritage Society

Posted By IRC, Monday, April 29, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Russian Heritage Society began as a club in 2004 and later became the organization it is today when founder and current president Jane Romanova-Hrenchir moved to the United States and became the official organizer in 2005. The group began out of a desire for Russian speakers living in the United States to have a place of community where they could connect with their culture. It has grown to include anyone interested in Russian culture and language.


This cultural group hosts a wide range of events throughout the year that are geared toward honoring the many Russian traditions and holidays. They host an annual Christmas program near the end of December or beginning of January for children, which consists of performances and sweet treats such as traditional Russian candy. Other events include picnics and potlucks, which may include a program with live music from local or even globally known bands. These picnics are often very lively with the many people who attend and the music and singing. The Russian Heritage Society often partners with the Russian Orthodox Church to celebrate Easter or other significant religious holidays as well and also celebrates Victory Day, a celebration of the end of World War II.


The society enjoys giving back to its community in multiple ways. One way is through visiting elderly individuals living in facilities in Kansas City. During their visits, the members share traditional music with the residents and even celebrate their birthdays and generally try to create meaningful connections with a community that often feels alone.


Another way that the organization gives back is through assisting orphanages in Kazan, Russia. The president of the organization, Jane, saw a Facebook post online about a local Russian orphanage that was having troubles financially. The orphanage was given only enough to sustain themselves, but nothing extra to allow more flexibility to improve the building or gather enough resources for all of the children. Jane was very stirred by this story and rallied the Russian Heritage Society to seek out and raise donations for this orphanage and another one in a more remote location that has even less access to support. The organization raised about $1,000 in addition to securing medical supplies from a generous Kansas City donor in order to support these orphanages. In 2015, Jane was able to visit the orphanage in Kazan and present their donations. She and a group of interested individuals returned in 2018 for a second round of donations and assistance to the orphanage. The Russian Heritage Society plans to continue this type of support to contribute to the well-being of their home country.


In addition to these many great ventures, the Russian Heritage Society works closely with the Russian Consulate in Houston and hosts a range of language courses for those interested in learning the Russian language or continuing practice with the language. They hope to continue expanding the language programs to include more cultural events and even field trips. In regard to the language courses, programs, and general interest, Jane commented, “...we are extremely inclusive to the people who are from America, from any other country, who have been learning the Russian language. And that has been another surprise for me, personally, because I just did not expect that such a large population of Americans are interested in Russian language.” She is overjoyed by the growing enthusiasm for the Russian language as well as the culture of the country. The Russian Heritage Society loves the opportunity to share their culture and traditions with the Kansas City community and looks forward to further partnership with the International Relations Council in order to educate the community about Russia, its culture, values, and heritage.


If you are interested in learning more about the Russian Heritage Society or viewing their upcoming events, please feel free to visit their website at www.ruheritage.org. Jane Romanova-Hrenchir is more than willing to speak with you and help you get connected with the organization, whether that is through attending language courses, volunteering at events, or simply joining hundreds of other individuals interested in learning more about Russian culture.

 

                                             

The IRC spotlights our members and their diverse work and interests in the international space. To learn more or to indicate interest in being spotlighted in an upcoming post, please visit: http://www.irckc.org/page/MemberSpotlight.


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