Speech of Sean Buffington, associate provost for arts and culture at Harvard University. The Сeremony of signing the Agreement. March 20, 2007

To His Holiness Patriarch Alexy, Mr. Poltavchenko, Embassador Mayorov, and to all distinguished members of this board,
I bring greetings from the President and Provost of Harvard University, and also (a special greeting) to our friends, Mr. Voronchenko and Mr. Wexelberg, I bring greetings and thanks. I know that this process has been a long one, and that it began a long time ago, as far back as the 1980-s, and that Harvard has sometimes been a frustrating partner to work with.

I said earlier to Vladimir, and I hope that you won’t take offence, that sometimes the Harvard goverment is not unlike the Soviet goverment. It’s very difficult to navigate sometimes but when we do finally manage to discover the right way, then we do dedicate ourselves to it, and I believe, in this case we have discovered the fundamental importance of this exchange.

And I will say, what has been most inspiring to us is to meet the people who work most closely with the bells, those who ring them here, in the Monastery, and also those who manifacture the bells. From those people, from Father Roman, Father Alexey, Valery Anisimov, Igor Konovalov, Konstantin Mescharovsky, from these people we have learnt what the bells mean to the Russian people and to the Russian Church.

And so, it is a great honour for us, and it is humbling for us to be here and to be part of this project and of this historic exchange. And I must say that we ourselves, despite the fact that we come from another culture, have been able to hear and feel in our own hearts the magnificence and the beauty, and the Russian soul that is contained in the sound of these Bells.

And it has affected us very deeply. So, we are proud to be part of this day. We would like to thank all of you for your patience with us and also for doing all that you have done to enable the return of these sacred objects and cultural treasure. Thank you.