Tsagaan Sar – A Special Day

Bolar Eric Rhinpoche

Bolar and Eric Smith with Arjaa Rinpoche

On March 21st, Tsetserleg Mongolia Sister City Chair Bolor Smith, with the generous sponsorship of the Fairhaven Rug Gallery, held Bellingham’s now annual Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian New Years) event that included an afternoon of music, stories, delicious food, good friends, and shared cultures.

This year Arjaa Rinpoche, the spiritual teacher of the Mongolians and Tibetans in America, and founder of the Children’s Cancer Center in Mongolia, joined the festivities this year. Arjia Rinpoche is the only Tibetan high lama of Mongolian descent. He excels in the knowledge and understanding of Tibetan art, architecture and the Tibetan Language. He has given classes in Buddhist Art and Sutra throughout the United States, Canada, Taiwan, India and Guatemala.

Monkey Puzzle Performing "Rhinpoche Waling In The Rain"

Monkey Puzzle Performing “Rinpoche Waling In The Rain”

In honor of Arjaa Rinpoche, the band Monkey Puzzle wrote and performed a new song, “Rinpoche Walking in the Rain”.  The three piece band’s song was peaceful, soft and yet full of the joy of walking in a spring rain. Monkey Puzzle is a local Bellingham based band who have performed for the Rinpoche before.

Magical Story 02

Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor’s Story of Witches and Magic Horses

There were also story tellers – Doug Banner, Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor, and Karen Thomas. Story telling is a big part of Tsagaan Sar, and each of the stories drew in the audience, especially the children.  Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor’s story captivated the kids with witches, a magical horse, and a special child.  

Arjaa Rinpoche recognized a number of those who helped make the day possible with the presentation of a Khadag (symbolizing purity and compassion) to the Monkey Puzzle band for their music, Bolor Smith for sponsoring, Arshia Fathalli, for the use of Fairhaven Rug Gallery, and Henry G. Schwarz who founded the Center for East Asian Studies at Western Washington University, and who in 2006, in recognition of Dr. Schwarz’ thirty years of promoting Mongolian Studies in the United States, the President of Mongolia awarded him the nation’s highest honor for foreigners, the Order of the Polar Star.

Arjaa Rinpoche Khadag  Presentations

Arjaa Rinpoche Khadag Presentations

You can view a slide show of these and other images here:

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About our sponsor, Fairhaven Rug Gallery – “Nearly every inch of his 6,000-square-foot gallery is covered in stunning carpets, stretching across the floor between waist-high piles of rugs and hanging on ropes from the high ceiling. Lighting fit for a museum illuminates the brilliant colors and textures of his approximately 3,000 rugs, some over 20 feet long, complemented with art and artifacts from his travels through the Middle East. (By Mark Stayton from article in Bellingham Business Journal)

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Vaasa, Finland and Bellingham, WA Education Project

High SchoolIn February, Secondary Education Professor and BSCA Board Member Lauren McClanahan traveled to Vaasa, Finland, to catch up with Andrea Antrim, a Woodring College of Education student who is completing her student teaching assignment in Vaasa.  During her student teaching assignment, Andrea has had great experiences and if you would like to read about Andreas adventures you can click here.

Vaasa Group

Andrea has worked in conjunction with the Abo Akademi (Vaasa’s teacher education college) to partner with teachers at both the middle and high school level in the area of social studies. While in Vaasa, Lauren and Andrea met with Vaasa Mayor Tomas Hayry, as well as Christina Knookala, the Director of Education and Cultural Services for Vaasa, and Anna-Maija Iitola, the Office Chief for the City of Vaasa.

Elementary SchoolFor the past year, Andrea and Lauren have been hosting a partnership project between teachers in Vaasa and teachers here in Bellingham, in which teachers can exchange ideas and strategies for teaching. You can read about Partnership Project by clicking here.

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Mongolian New Years – Tsagaan Sar And You Are Invited!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn March 21, 2015 at 2:00 PM at the Fairhaven Rug Gallery (901 Harris Avenue), and with the generous sponsorship of the Fairhaven Rug Gallery, the Bellingham Sister Cities Association is pleased to invite all to Tsagaan Sar for an afternoon of music, stories, delicious food, good friends, and shared cultures. Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian New Year) is a celebration hosted by Blue Sky Education Project, Bellingham Sister Cities Association, and Fairhaven Rug Gallery.

8th_Arjia_RinpocheArjaa Rinpoche, the spiritual teacher of the Mongolians and Tibetans in America, will be joining our festivities this year. Arjia Rinpoche is the only Tibetan high lama of Mongolian descent. He excels in the knowledge and understanding of Tibetan art, architecture and the Tibetan Language. He has given classes in Buddhist Art and Sutra throughout the United States, Canada, Taiwan, India and Guatemala. In 1999, Rinpoche built a three-dimensional Kalachakra mandala and presented it to the Dalai Lama. Later, the Dalai Lama donated this mandala to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

Mongolian MusiciansIt is a potluck!

Please bring a dish to share. Donations will be accepted in lieu of a dish. All proceeds will go to support the Children’s Cancer Center that Arjaa Rinbuche established in Mongolia last year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

About our sponsor, Fairhaven Rug Gallery – “Nearly every inch of his 6,000-square-foot gallery is covered in stunning carpets, stretching across the floor between waist-high piles of rugs and hanging on ropes from the high ceiling. Lighting fit for a museum illuminates the brilliant colors and textures of his approximately 3,000 rugs, some over 20 feet long, complemented with art and artifacts from his travels through the Middle East. Fathali said he is known for having oversized rugs, something that not only draws buyers from Vancouver and Seattle, but often from across the country. He relies mainly on word-of-mouth advertising, counting on satisfied customers to return and bring their friends.”

– Mark Stayton, Bellingham Business Journal

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Punta Arenas Chair Takes Exchange Students To Heritage Flight Museum

photo 4-4February 7, 2015, it was a great day for a field trip; winter sunshine, 58* and a 45 minute drive to the Heritage Flight Museum at the Skagit Airport.  Captain Paul Myers and I , Cheryl Myers the appointed Sister Cities Chair person to Punta Arenas, Chile, picked up our Punta Arenas exchange students in Bellingham and drove southward to our destination.

Three high school juniors packed into the back seat of our Subaru SUV allowed for them just about enough room to breathe, providing they placed their lunch stuffed backpacks in the back. The drive, though somewhat uneventful, provided us with a hint at the early spring that was approaching.  Many of the fields were already pushing up tulips, a crop that is a huge industry in this local . Hundreds and hundreds of acres of tulip blooms annually  provide a spectacular tourist attraction in May, but this year is moved back to April. Sorry our Students could not  be here to witness that!

photo 4-3Arriving at the small airport, Andres noted that the airfield was similar to one near their home vicinity.  Upon entering the museum, we two adults were not too sure how long this place would hold our charges attention span.  With World War II, Korean and Vietnam Air-fighter planes, helicopter and ground transport equipment, as well as a 1/3 scale model of Apollo 8 command module on display, we were prepared to allow for an hour or more depending on interest. Being pleasantly surprised, we found that Victoria and Constancia were as captivated as Andres. Three and a half hours later, after climbing onto and into much of the equipment, watching Greg Anders take off and do several low pass flybys in his AT-6, as well as and having a photo op  with Lt. Colonel Greg Anders (the son of  Apolo 8 Moon trip Maj. General William Anders) it was time to head back, “home.”

 

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Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville Speaks About Sister Cities

Mayor Linville Addresses Sister City Board Retreat

Mayor Linville Addresses Sister City Board Retreat

“The Sister Cities Advisory Board advises the Mayor on the establishment and maintenance of sister city relationships between the City of Bellingham and cities of other countries. The mission of the Bellingham Sister Cities Association is to seek to achieve international understanding, cultural sensitives and to encourage trade and tourism.

Mayor Linville at Tateyama Runners Banzai Send-Off

Mayor Linville at Tateyama Runners Banzai Send-Off

At the City of Bellingham, we are lucky to have an active Sister Cities Association. Sister Cities creates a culturally richer Bellingham and I am grateful that the City can partner with this Association to continue to encourage Bellingham residents to interact with individuals from all over the world. Our 7 Sister Cities represent a wide-ranging set of cultures. I have so enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had to welcome visitors, students, athletes and dignitaries from these Sister Cities and look forward to continued partnership in the years to come. 

Mayor Linville, President Teresa Van Haalen and Past-President Karen Callery

Mayor Linville, President Teresa Van Haalen and Past-President Karen Callery

I would like to extend my appreciation to the Sister Cities Advisory Board members who have donated their time to further their mission and contribute to a better Bellingham.”  – Mayor Kelli Linville

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Peace Grants Awarded To Three Recipients

The Bellingham Sister Cities Association has awarded three recipients with Peace Grants for 2014.  Selected from a number of highly qualified submissions, the three selected finalists were:

United We DanceUnited We Dance of The Dance Studio in support of their taking 13 dance students to perform in Tateyama, Japan in July of 2015.

RunnersThe Bellingham “6” Runners There are a total of six runners from Bellingham who are competing in our Sister City Tateyama, Japan’s 35th Wakashio Marathon.

Eleanor Long

Eleanor and Richard Long The Long’s are traveling to Punta Arenas in November of 2015 to further enhance their relationships established during teacher exchanges at Roosevelt Elementary.

The objective of the Bellingham Sister Cities Peace Grant award is to improve and expand existing relationships between Bellingham and its seven Sister Cities: Cheongju, Korea; Nakhodka, Russia; Port Stephens, Australia; Punta Arenas, Chile; Tateyama, Japan; Tsetserleg, Mongolia; and Vaasa, Finland.

The Peace Grant supports Bellingham-Sister City partnerships by providing funding for up to $1,000 to outbound exchanges for local U.S. citizens. The Bellingham Sister Cities Association has set aside up to $1,000 as a grant to help fund local travelers who will be visiting one of Bellingham’s seven sister cities. Applications will be accepted for 2016 beginning September 1, 2015.

The Bellingham Sister Cities Association is a community based organization providing opportunities for citizens of Whatcom County to develop relationships and build a sense of community with our sister cities around the world. Our mission is to seek to achieve international understanding, cultural sensitivities and encourage trade and tourism. This is accomplished through cultural exchanges, educational programs and community events. The Peace Grant was created to help facilitate this mission.

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Bellingham Sister Cities Association Opens Dedicated Twitter & Google+ Accounts

Twitter

Twitter @BhamSisterCity

Google Plus Page

Google+ Page (Bellingham Sister Cities Association)

The Bellingham Sister Cities Association (BSCA) is increasing it’s social media presence and has launched it’s own Twitter Account @BhamSisterCity as well as a Google+ Page. These, along with the BSCA Facebook Page (Bellingham Sister Cities Association) will now be four ways for BSCA to increase its communication with members, as well as the communities here in Bellingham/Whatcom County and our Sister Cities around the world.

With an average of 4,000 visitors per month to the web site, BSCA knows that it is reaching thousands around the world and with outreach now through the Website, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, BSCA hopes to reach even more people in new and different ways.  It is anticipated that by the end of 2015 we will double our number of visitors.

Now, whenever a post is made to the BSCA website, posts will be automatically made to each of our social media sites.  Of course, anyone interested in just getting an email when we post anything just simply needs to go to www.bsca.org and subscribe to BSCA!

PrintBellingham Sister Cities Association sponsors many events through out the year.  If you are interested in learning more about the Bellingham Sister Cities Association (open to all Bellingham and Whatcom County residents) please visit our website.

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From War To Peace – Remembering Jack Pierce, One Of BSCA’s Founders …

Jack PierceIn going through some old materials, we happened upon a 1998 article that was posted in the Bellingham Herald about Jack Pierce, one of the founders of our Bellingham Sister Cities Association back in 1958.  He was a man who fought the Japanese at Okinawa, Guam and Bouganville, but who embraced peace and understanding through President Eisenhower’s concept of Sister Cities and establishing our relationship with Tateyama as a way to heal the divisions of World War II.  You can read the entire article by clicking here or on the attached copy.

Jack has passed on now (2002), but many of us in Bellingham remember him not just for his work in helping establish our program, but also as the professor of Geography (Far East and Economic Geography) at Whatcom Community College. You know that the Bellingham/Tateyama sister city relationship was only the second in Washington State?  Or that Bellingham was the 11th one in the United States to establish a program? It was people like Jack that helped us establish where we are today.

1998 #3001

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BSCA Board Members Lauren McClanahan and Andrea Antrim Launch Bellingham-Vaasa Education Project Website

Finland is home to arguably the finest education system in the world.  Similarly, Bellingham is home to one of the finest school districts in the state of Washington.  Because of that fact, a WWU education professor (Lauren McClanahan) and her graduate student (Andrea Antrim – Read Her Blog Here) decided to survey teachers in Vaasa and teachers in Bellingham to find out what questions they might have for one another, and how the two cities might learn from one another to help improve education for everyone in our communities.  The result is the Bellingham-Vaasa Education Project website.  Please have a look, and feel free to leave a comment. 

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Bellingham Runners Arrive For the Wakashio Marathon

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Runners From Bellingham Meet Up With Port Stephens Australia Runners in Tateyama, Japan

The first wave of three Bellingham runners arrived in Tateyama and gathered with some of the Tateyama folks and the full contingent of Port Stephens Australia runners and visitors with Tateyama Bay to their backs.

There are a total of six runners from Bellingham who are competing in our Sister City Tateyama, Japan’s 35th Wakashio Marathon.  Representing the Bellingham Sister Cities Association are Sabrina Romano, Sam Schell, Brad and Sandra Hubbard, and Twila and Doug Wiebe.

Just as this is an annual event for Bellingham Sister Cities Association to attend the Wakashio Marathon, runners from Tateyama, Japan come to Bellingham to compete in the Bellingham Bay Marathon.

This event is only one of many events put on by the Bellingham Sister Cities Association through the year.  If you are interested in learning more about the Bellingham Sister Cities Association (open to all Bellingham and Whatcom County residents) please visit our website.

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