PORTLAND – Anastasia “Nastya” Bogdanova traveled more than 4,000 miles and eight time zones to work for two weeks in Portland’s Human Resources Department.

She found out that Portland has many of the same problems as her hometown in Russia.

“How is it best to manage people, to motivate them to do a better job?” said Bogdanova, who left Portland on Tuesday. “These are international human-resource problems.”

As part of a legislative fellowship from the American Councils for International Education, Bogdanova spent two weeks in Portland to learn from the city’s Human Resources Department and take ideas back to Russia.

Bogdanova is from Archangel, one of Portland’s sister cities. She works for the municipal government there as its chief human resources specialist.

American Councils placed Bogdanova in Portland because of the two cities’ longstanding ties. The ties date to World War II, when Portland and Archangel served as ports for Allied convoys shipping food, weapons and other supplies. They officially became sister cities in 1988.

Since then, dozens of delegations have traveled between the two cities. The Archangel Committee, a nonprofit in Portland, works to help foster the relationship. It’s composed entirely of volunteers and receives no federal, state or city assistance.

Bogdanova said she will take back to Archangel some of Portland’s programs, like Employee of the Month awards and recognition for employees who have served five, 10, 15 and 20 years in city government.

“Where I’m from, it’s work, work, work: no recognition,” Bogdanova said in a thick Russian accent. “But I think this is a good way to increase motivation. You don’t have to spend money — just appreciate.”

She said Portland could do some things better, like public transportation.

“All the surrounding communities should combine their resources, instead of multiple systems,” she said. “Then you can have more buses and more efficiency.”

City Councilor Ed Suslovic, who has gone to Archangel three times and spent much time with Bogdanova going to city meetings, said he hopes her visit will jump-start a deeper relationship between the cities.

A contingent of 14 Archangel students will arrive in Portland on Nov. 4 for a 12-day visit that includes attending Portland High School. Suslovic and Neale Duffett, chairman of The Archangel Committee, said the committee hopes to send Portland students to Archangel at some point for a similar experience.

The committee needs to raise at least $12,000 to do so, and has found a private donor who will match the first $6,000 raised.

Bogdanova and Suslovic pledged to start A-PEAT: The Arkhangelsk-Portland Energy Action Team. By spring, the two cities hope to form committees of residents who are interested in discussing and implementing sustainability projects in both cities.

“Environmental issues are international,” Bogdanova said. “We picked ‘action team’ because it’s active. We will act.”

Suslovic said the groups from each city will use social-media tools like Skype to coordinate their plans. He compared A-PEAT to the Portland Waste Reduction Group, an organization started by school moms that reduced waste and increased recycling in Portland schools.

“Sometimes grass-roots efforts get the most things done,” Suslovic said.

Bogdanova said Russia doesn’t have much civic activism, so A-PEAT “will be an interesting venture.”

Janice Kimball, the benefits manager in Portland’s Human Resources Department, said the department “really enjoyed” having Bogdanova in Portland.

“We got to see how she perceived what we were doing,” she said. “It’s always nice to get an outside viewpoint like that.”

Bogdanova said Portland and Archangel have a lot in common besides their proximity to the water. She hopes to return to Portland.

“The people here think about life, not only money,” she said. “They love life. It’s not like that everywhere.”

Staff Writer Jason Singer can be reached at 791-6437 or:

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