The Russian Club's original plan was to host regular movie and cuisine nights, but after Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, club executives decided to redirect the programming to support Ukrainians.
The Russian Club resurfaced on USC’s campus this year after losing student interest during the pandemic. Usually a fun, culture-exploration club, the Russian Club refocused its resources this semester.
“We just didn’t feel with the current situation that it was the appropriate time to launch and broadcast our club,” Keren Karmiel, the president of the Russian Club, said. “We want to make sure all our resources were really headed to where they mattered the most.”
The club has shown its support by making posters with a QR code that links to resources about the war. The links are for charities that support Ukraine and news websites that provide an unbiased, live feeds of what is happening.
“We hope that anyone that hasn’t really been able to understand what’s happening with the conflict is able to have a quick and easy streamlined way to get their support and educate themselves on what’s happening,” Karmiel said.
The Russian Club is planning on starting a congressional letter-writing campaign asking Congress to allocate aid money to Ukraine and to accept more Ukrainian refugees in the United States.
“We are members of the democracy and our voices matter," said Cecilia Callozzo, the vice president of the Russian Club. "And that’s something that we’re really passionate about here in the Russian Club is making our voices heard.”
Alexander Ogden, the director of the Russian program at USC, has been helping Russian Club executives brainstorm and execute different ways to support Ukraine.
“Dealing with the Ukrainian crisis and figuring out ways to address that in a helpful and practical way, I think has been one of the things that have really united the students that are involved and have really given them a sense of mission,” Ogden said.
Club members’ interest in the Russian culture has not waned since the start of the war, but they said they hope to use their organization as a platform to educate and rally USC students to support Ukraine.
“I think it’s important to be focusing on how we can aid Ukrainians and how we can preserve Ukrainian culture without vilifying individual Russians or Russian culture,” Callozzo said. “I definitely want the USC community to know that this has been a long time in the making."
Students interested in aiding Ukraine can reach out to the Russia Club through GarnetGate or follow the club on Instagram.
“I’m really hoping that we can at least make a small difference. Even if we change one person’s mind, that’s one more person who is willing to stand up for Ukraine,” Callozzo said.