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Cultural hot spot for students seeking Russian influence

Where can you find former intelligence operatives, business leaders, and nesting dolls on campus? At the Russian Club.

The Russian Club, meets every week at 7 p.m. at Eddy 104, to culturally immerse students in a Russian environment and connect students to members of the community who are searching for a connection to home.

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“Usually I have several like this, who are adopted and still want to be close to the culture,” said Ludmila Pokatilova, Russian professor.

The club sponsors multiple events to remove students from their comfort zone and provide an opportunity to learn about the Russian culture.  According to Pokatilova, the main events are a day trip to Denver, a trip to Golden Leaf Gallery in Estes Park, and multiple film nights throughout the year.

“They walk around in Aurora Russian business areas, theres a russian bookstore, a russian grocery store, and a russian restaurant,” said Pokatilova, describing the trip to Denver.

Little Europe, a Russian/Ukranian restaurant in Denver, the clubs stop at during its trip only speaks Russian, according to Will Bernath, Russian Club member.

“It’s kind of a little cultural immersion you get in Denver,” Bernath said.

The trip to Estes Park is expected to take place this Sunday, but may be canceled due to the damage sustained in the recent floods, according to Pokatilova.

The trip consists of a visit to the Golden Leaf Gallery where students can purchase souvenirs varying from nesting dolls to Lomonosov porcelain.

The club will host multiple film nights throughout the semester.  They will be played on Sept. 30, Oct. 3, Oct. 23, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. inside Eddy 104 and everyone is welcome to attend.

According to Bernath, the movies during the Cold War differ from the ones in the post war era.

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“I guess they were made for a different time, whereas now it’s much more westernized,” Bernath said. “I guess a little more friendly to the western audience.

“A lot of the times we watch a lot of Soviet Union type films, so they have political underlays and patriotism,” said Aila Bereznak, Russian Club member.

The Club also brings in a range of speakers to talk to its members. They range from former intelligence operatives to business leaders and from students to alumni, according to Pokatilova.

The speakers, films, and events all provide the cultural aspect of the club.

In addition to that cultural aspect, the Russian Conversational Corner, is a supplemental program where students can go to progress their language skills.

“We have all russian tutors,” Bernath said. ”You just practice the Russian language, they help with your homework, and any question you have about the Russian language they can help you out.”

“It’s a really hard language, you have to be passionate about it,” said Kristina Syrina, tutor of Russian Conversational Corner.

According to Syrina, it’s important to learn the grammar rules, but just as important to learn the story and meaning behind the rules. The Russian Conversational Corner is a place where students can go to learn the language in depth from a native speaker.

After students have progressed in their language skills, the Russian Club is planning a six week, six credit study abroad experience this summer to Krasnodar.

According to Bereznak, Krasnodar is different than Moscow in the sense of the people. Since Krasnodar is close to the border the population is more ethnic than Moscow.

“I felt I was learning the language aspect of the class but I wanted to learn more about the culture by watching movies and going to russian restaurants, just to augment my classroom time with russian cultural stuff,” Bernath said.

Collegian Senior Reporter Lawrence Lam can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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