Russians visit to experience La Crosse culture
La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, WI)
Posted on August 5, 2006
By Steve Cahalan
|UWL professor Charles Hass, left, gives a tour of the Hixon House to a group from Russia.|
Dick Riniker photo.
Nine Russian cultural leaders are sharing experiences with their area counterparts during a visit to the La Crosse area through Aug. 16.
This weekend, they’ll get a taste of La Crosse festivals, with the Great River Jazz Fest, CenturyTel Sand on the Riverfront and the city’s continuing sesquicentennial celebration.
World Services of La Crosse is hosting the group, which is sponsored by the Open World Leadership Center, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. The center was established by Congress in 1999 to enable emerging leaders from Russia to experience American-style democracy and society.
On Friday, the second day of local activities for the Russians, they visited the public library and the La Crosse County Historical Society’s Riverside and Swarthout museums and its Hixon House at Seventh and Badger streets. Construction began in 1859 on lumber baron Gideon Hixon’s home, which was expanded over the years.
“For me, it’s very interesting to study the relationship between the museums, historical societies, different organizations,” said Irina Scherbakova, who works in Moscow as executive director of the Association of Cultural Managers.
After touring the Hixon House, Scherbakova said she likes area residents’ attitudes toward their cultural heritage. And she is glad members of the Russian group are staying in area homes, where they can see how ordinary Americans live.
Anastasia Zhukova, marketing manager for the Arkhangelsk State Museum of Wooden Architecture and Folk Arts in Arkhangelsk (formerly called Archangel in English), said she wants to learn how area attractions market themselves. She also is interested in seeing how area businesses, noncommercial organizations and governments are structured and how they collaborate.
“It’s a very nice city,” Zhukova said of La Crosse. “It’s not very large. But the culture is on a high level. And people are very, very hospitable.”
In the next several days, the group will visit such places as Sparta and Madison, Wis.; Lanesboro, Minn., and Dubuque, Iowa. Besides sharing experiences with their counterparts, they will make presentations on their geographic regions and cultural heritage to groups such as the La Crosse Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, local arts organizations and Kiwanis Club members.
The bureau and county historical society helped develop the program for the Russian visitors. “This is a great opportunity to expose them to our three venues,” historical society Executive Director Carl Miller said of his organization’s museums and the Hixon House.
Steve Cahalan can be reached at (608) 791-8229 or email@example.com.
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[Reprinted with Permission]