(Photo, Courtesy of Bend Belluno Sister Cities Cultural Exchange)
Celebrating Music, Youth, Culinary, Running & Family Exchanges
This community celebration is August 14 beginning at 5:30pm at the Bend-Belluno Sister City Plaque next to Greg’s Grill in the Old Mill District. The community is invited to gather before the short program as a special outdoor bar will be set up by Greg’s Grill.
Highlighting this year’s sister city event will be special music celebrating our cultures and friendship. We’ll focus on current exchanges between our communities including culinary, music, running, and the summer youth exchange with five students from Belluno participating. Special treat will be the James Knox family from Bend. They will share their experience of living in Belluno for ten weeks this past spring.
Belluno, Italy, lies 35 miles north of Venice at the base of the Dolomite Mountains Besides size, a visit to Belluno underscores the many similarities of our cities: both are regional centers for government, medicinel and commerce, as well as recreational communities with world class winter and summer activities. Both are blessed with amazing mountain views. Belluno was recently recognized as Best Quality of Life of all Italian Cities in Italy’s most influential economic magazine.
This past spring James Knox, professor of music and director of choral activities at COCC and director of Bend’s Children’s Choir, took a sabbatical from COCC. Professor Knox wanted to use the sabbatical time to further his education at a music conservatory, while also becoming involved with music in a small community. Jim and Heather, along with their middle and high school aged kids, also wanted to be in an active community. Laura Becker, from our Bend-Belluno sister group, introduced the Knox family to the opportunities in and around Belluno. The Knox’s saw they could meet their professional and family requirements in our Italian sister city. Months before their arrival, they worked through our connections in Belluno to find lodging in the historical center of Belluno and to secure introductions to the music community.
Within days of their arrival in Belluno, the family joined an active running club. As Jim shared, “We figured this would be the best option for us, as we have different levels of runners within our family. Since our connection with the running group, we as a family have participated in various running activities and races.”
Through the running groups, Jim’s active music schedule, and the kids’ WiFi use at Belluno coffee shops to keep up with their school work, the Knox’s furthered their connections in Belluno. At the time, Heather wrote, “Our family has been overwhelmed with their hospitality. Wonderful- beautiful people of Belluno!”
Just a few of the organization’s multiple cultural exchange successes:
• Monthly Italian cultural talks in Bend with special focus on the Dolomites.
• Summer Youth Cross Cultural Exchange: 51 students have participated in the last five years in the Bend-Belluno Rotary Short Term Exchange Program. This unique and successful program allows Bend area high school juniors to spend three weeks with a Belluno high school student and their family, followed by a reciprocal three week hosting of the Belluno student here in Bend.
• Cascade Culinary Institute has sent two teams to participate in a three week culinary program in Belluno province. Besides taking part in instruction, the team, comprised of a chef and two students, has participated in stage experiences in an agriturismo, several restaurants and a bakery, as well as professionally investigating local eateries in the Veneto region.
With the Bend-Belluno Sister City partnership, residents from each city are invited to learn firsthand through one-on-one relationships and reciprocal cultural exchanges the common issues the two communities share, in spite of cultural and language differences. Angelo Paganin of Belluno, Italy, goes further in speaking about our shared sister city activities, “…and especially the students’ exchanges are a concrete opportunity to overcome stereotypes and barriers. It is an example to a real and deep knowledge between people, an opportunity of friendship and hospitality and a way to promote the natural beauties of each side as the slogan Bella Bend Beautiful Belluno states.
This event is open to the public.