70 Stories: Boris Krylov, Building Bridges

The Heart of Citizen Diplomacy in Kansas City

Person-to-person cultural exchange lies at the heart of citizen diplomacy and the mission of Global Ties KC. Central to this principle is the understanding that personal interactions have the power to transform perspectives and even influence geopolitics, as individuals learn to appreciate the value and humanity of those perceived as being “other.” 

Related: 70 Stories: Avazbek Atakhanov and Religious Freedom

How Did Kansas City Influence A Member Of The Soviet Committee In 1964?

In 1964, Boris Krylov visited Kansas City strictly on business. As a member of the Soviet Committee on Cultural Contacts with Foreign Countries, he and two colleagues explored KC as a potential location for a USSR exhibition on public health, facilitated by what is now Global Ties KC.

Their time in the Heartland profoundly shifted their perceptions of what American cities could look like. “Kansas City is very bright,” Boris told The Kansas City Times during their visit, “not dark as some American cities.”

Exploring the Culture of Kansas City

During their three-day-stay, Boris and his colleagues immersed themselves in the city’s culture, engaging in activities that remain quintessential Kansas City experiences today — indulging in barbecue, touring the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and strolling through the Country Club Plaza. They also met with key political figures, including a luncheon with Mayor Ilus Davis at Mission Hills Country Club.

“The mayor of your city is very generous, very kind […] He received us in the hall of the city and showed us the city from the roof in all its dimensions.” – Boris Krylov

Building Bridges During the Cold War

Against the backdrop of the Cold War, characterized by heightened propaganda efforts and tensions between the US and the Soviet Union, three Russian visitors and their American hosts transcended stereotypes and biases to see each other as who they truly were, epitomizing the essence of citizen diplomacy.

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What is the Lasting Legacy of Citizen Diplomacy in Kansas City?

The legacy of the 1964 visit still resonates today, with Global Ties KC continuing to serve as a vital link connecting Kansas City to the world. Through these ongoing efforts, Kansas City not only elevates its international standing but also enriches its local community with diverse perspectives and cultural exchanges. Through these local actions, all citizens have the potential to foster a brighter, more connected world. 

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