NL: Russian Diplomacy

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For several years, once a year my father and step-mother hosted a child from the Republic of Belarus - one of the Soviet Republics. The church-sponsored trips allowed kids who had been exposed to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to come here for more advanced medical checkups than they would otherwise get. Since it was the same child each year, they got to know the parents quite well and even traveled to Belarus to visit them. A few years ago was the last time that Alexander could visit, so his parents arranged to come with him for the visit. I planned a trip home so I could finally meet them as well. Alexander's father could not really speak English, and as a typical American, I couldn't speak Russian, so we had some fun conversation through a darling young Belurus girl who acted as interpreter. (We also had some hilarious pantomime conversations without her.) The last night, he insisted on grilling a traditional pork dish with, of course, some good Russian Vodka. Both extended families gathered on the patio. The summer night was pleasant, the pork was outstanding, and the vodka flowed freely with the toasts. THAT was successful diplomacy!