Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. ~ Maya Angelou
The countdown to our #YMCARockies2Russia trip continues. Today, I’m honored to have Julie Watkins, Vice President of Association Advancement of the YMCA of the Rockies, join me at the table. Julie will be leading our friendship mission to Russia where we are eager to meet face to face with our hosts and learn more about ways we can strengthen our Y communities. Welcome, Julie.
I am honored to be leading the YMCA of the Rockies’ inaugural visit to Russia. Our partnership with YMCA Russia is truly a blessing to both of our Ys and I am excited to visit this wonderful country with others who love the YMCA.
Our journey will include touring some of Russia’s well known sites — Moscow, Yaroslavl UNESCO Heritage Site, St. Petersburg, and Peterhof. Although we expect these destinations to be a highlight of the experience, the trip will be more than just touring. We will have unique opportunities to experience the Russian people and culture. Thanks to the hospitality of our YMCA Russia hosts we will spend time off-the-beaten-path dining in Russian family homes, attending a Russian Orthodox service, and learning about the history of Russia.
This trip will be my second visit to Russia. I travelled with Kent Meyer, President/CEO of YMCA of the Rockies, along with his wife Betty, to the Russian YMCA “Dacha” Center during its construction in 2013. Located above the Volga River, we walked the construction site and heard YMCA Russia’s leadership share their vision for the facility and the impact that it would have on the guests that use it. It is exciting to be returning and to be celebrating the realization of this dream.
YMCA of the Rockies entered into a partnership agreement with YMCA of Russia in 2013. The mutual commitment that built our partnership benefits our members and enhances our ability to fulfill the YMCA mission. This trip will do a great deal to further strengthen our this commitment. We will have the opportunity to meet with YMCA of Russia leadership to learn and share about our YMCAs’ programs and the impact they have on our communities. We will also discuss ways that we can strengthen our YMCAs through partnership activities. I am very interested to hear the ideas that my travel companions have on how our YMCAs can work together for the benefit of the families and youth we serve.
I know this trip will be a memorable experience for me – and for the 14 others going. We all hope to take full advantage of our time in Russia by connecting with as many people as possible, remaining open to new ideas, and thinking about how life in our communities – and our YMCA – could change.
I’ll be posting live updates from Russia on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Be sure to follow the YMCA of the Rockies, too. Our group will be using the hashtag #YMCARockies2Russia so you can also keep up with us that way.