At the Regional Analytical Centre in Volgograd, a public meeting "Valuable Conversation" was held on the occasion of the Twin Cities Day, which is celebrated on the last Sunday of April.
Despite the fact that the twinning movement is currently suspended as a number of cities from Western countries have suspended their twinning, the public meeting was attended not only by Russian participants, but also in an online format by representatives of the twinned cities: public figures and ordinary citizens from the UK, France, Turkey and the USA.
"Valuable conversation" turned out to be about the fact that ordinary friendship and mutual cooperation between people, regardless of nationality and country of residence, are especially valuable today and do not end under any circumstances. Mr Yury Starovatykh, the head of Volgograd from 1986 to 1990, the current head of the regional branch of the All-Russian Peace Foundation, said that even today he corresponds with representatives of the authorities of German cities, with which he began twinning relations; Volgograd students shared the details of their correspondence with British students, representatives of French and Turkish public organizations told about their projects, which continue with Russia. Students and volunteers in the public meeting room spoke about their own contribution to the development of international relations at the level of "citizens to citizens".
This communication became possible as a result of the international project "Digital Tablecloth - Coventry and Volgograd: 80 years of mutual support" which united both the expert community of Volgograd and Coventry, and citizens of the twin cities from other countries. As a reminder, the project, which is being implemented by the NGO Leaders of Change using a grant from the President of the Russian Federation, provided by the Presidential Grants Fund, was launched on July 1, 2021. As a result of great international work, just a few days ago, a new, modern digital version of the 1943 Coventry tablecloth was released; it reflects the history of the twinned cities during World War II, the modern look of the twin cities, and a child's view of peace and friendship. The tablecloth is a digital model and fabric with children's drawings around the edges and inside there are photos with pictures of twin cities, copies of artists' paintings and QR codes containing information about the images, their authors, descriptions of the place and its history. Project leader Natalia Oreshkina told the participants of the meeting about its realisation.
The unique and valuable communication lasted for two and a half hours and everyone agreed - the ideas of personal development, friendly communication and mutual interest in different cultures live on and will live on despite any turns of events. The impressive final of the meeting was the presentation of souvenirs and memorable presents on the twinning theme to the Volgograd Regional Local Lore Museum. The participants of the meeting Irina Kareva, ex-chairwoman of Volgograd City Duma, and Natalia Alshuk, head of Volgograd and Coventry Friendship Society, presented unique things to the head curator of the museum - a family photo album on a visit to Ostrava, a toy and a souvenir handmade by children from Italy and other items. All of them will become exhibits of the Volgograd Regional Local Lore Museum`s exhibition devoted to Volgograd's twinning relations.