Slavic Festival a Celebration of a Culture's Colorful Heritage

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Feehan The Register-Guard

Phillip Mecum dutifully recited a Russian folk poem after an Orthodox Christmas pageant Sunday at the close of the two-day Slavic Festival at the Lane Events Center.

The poem, a tale of bravery and strength recited in Russian, brought tears of joy to Phillip's mother, Lada Sarycheva, who emigrated from Russia in 2000.

"He'll get enough American growing up here," Sarycheva said of her 2-year-old son. "I want him to know his heritage, his culture and his roots. Most of all, I want him to know the Russian language," she said.

Children of immigrant parents too quickly assimilate into American culture, losing sight of their history, said Sarycheva, who operates a day care center in Hillsboro where Russian is taught.

"I want the children to keep the Russian language. It's a treasure," she said.

People speaking Russian and other Slavic languages were in abundance during the weekend festival sponsored by Slavic Home, a new Eugene nonprofit organization with ties to Eugene's Russian sister city, Irkutsk.

Slavic Home seeks to promote diversity and cultural awareness, said organizer Matvey Ivanshov, a student at Lane Community College.

"This event is mostly for the kids, so they understand their roots and keep their language alive," said Ivanshov, 23, who emigrated from the Russian city of Cheliabinsk with his family in 1996.

The Slavic Christmas celebration features the characters Grandfather Frost and the Snow Princess attempting to light a Christmas tree, while evil spirits in the woods try to foil them.

"It's a classic tale of good vs. evil, with good prevailing in the end," said Ivanshov. …