November 29, 2003
EI 10th Anniversary Celebration was truly a reunion of a big family, a party made by the clients for the clients and enjoyed by the clients. Indeed, I felt that I was blessed to have all of you, my wonderful clients-friends around me. You applied the warmth of your hearts and the vigor of your spirit to make this party a success.
The party was a success because of you, my wonderful team of performers in the talent show. My neighbors became accustomed to hear the tunes of Matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof musical during our month long rehearsals. Tarlana playing the violin, Natasha accompanying her on piano and Aida singing with her sexy voice "Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch" almost draw a crowd of people under the windows of my office during these rehearsals. Barry, the Baltimore Opera orchestra bassoon player traveled many miles just to join the rest of the performers during the rehearsals.
The spirit of camaraderie was so overwhelming that a new member Charles, who joined EI one week before the Anniversary Party offered his home equipped with 26 musical instruments for the general rehearsal. Anna, who came to the general rehearsal as a singer unexpectedly revealed her extraordinary talent as a Master of Ceremony. Galina dressed in a traditional Ukrainian costume performed a dance under the tunes of a famous old folk song "Along Peterskaya Street walks a beautiful girl" while Olga dressed as a Gipsy made quite a spectacle dancing together with Charles dressed in a kilt.
Still Kristina deserves the biggest applause. For the whole month she was rehearsing her exotic Arabic belly dance, but she broke her toe just a short time before the performance. In a heroic effort to save her show she came out to the stage and decided to dance even if the ambulance would have been needed after the performance.
Needless to say, that the talent show exceeded all expectations. The second part of the show was especially touching. First, there came forward a little girl Victoria, a 7 year old daughter of EI couple Sean and Natasha Dunlap. She took the floor and sang a song My Country. It was very touching to hear her singing about her grand fathers dying for this land and her happiness in this land.
This patriotic theme was picked up by John Goping who sang a very popular Russian "long distance love" song from the time of World War II. John who managed to learn Russian in order to find the true love in Russia and succeeded in it, performed the song in Russian without any accent. The Russian part of the audience-- our beautiful ladies -- sang along with him. When he finished he was rewarded with a storm of applause.
In the great finale of the talent show the audience joined the performers in singing Moscow Nights and America the Beautiful expressing the appreciation of two countries and two cultures that became a part of all of us and our children.
The BBC Current Affairs documentary crew came from London to document our 10th Anniversary. In addition to their filming the entire talent show they asked many of you to give interviews on camera. I appreciate your willingness to state on camera -- for the entire world to hear -- how proud you are to be members of Encounters International and how happy you are with the choices you have made. The BBC 30 min program on World Weddings is scheduled to be broadcast in March, first, in Great Britain, and after that on the BBC World Network