Russian Club raising funds to support Ukraine
Since Russian leader Vladimir Putin launched a violent attack on Ukraine, more than 4 million Ukrainians have fled the country, with a further 6.5 million displaced from their homes but unable to escape the warzone.
Consequences of the invasion have spread across the globe, from rising gas prices to the threat of nuclear warfare. The impact is also visible here at ARHS, where the recently formed Russian Club is using its connection to this global event to raise money for disabled Ukrainians, who face more challenges in relocating.
The Russian Club was recently founded by ARHS graduate and student teacher Glynis Jones, who is currently teaching Chinese with Yiping Yan in the world language department. Jones is referred to as Zhou Laoshi in Chinese classes, since “Laoshi” is the Chinese word for teacher; Russian students know her by her Russian name, Galina. While thrilled to be teaching Chinese, Jones also has a dream of reviving the Russian language program that existed when she was a student at ARHS.
Though the club was “originally meant to be a space where students could learn to speak Russian and experience Russian culture,” when the news broke of Russia’s attack on Ukraine on February 24, Jones knew her priorities had to shift.
“As someone who teaches Mandarin Chinese and standard Russian, those are two languages of countries that enact oppressive behavior,” she said. “It is always my responsibility to teach about that.”
Russian Club meetings now split the time between language practice and fundraiser planning or discussions about Slavophobia and the history of Slavic countries.
Club member Vladimir Kenney said though he does not have personal connections to Ukraine and all of his Russian family is here in the US now, and “has been since I was very little,” he appreciates all of these opportunities to learn about “the history of the Slavic countries as a whole, not just Russia,” and to be exposed to “Ukrainian and Russian history and folktales.”
Jones feels that every effort counts when it comes to supporting Ukraine. “Even if it’s small, even if we only raise 100 bucks, even if we sell a single t-shirt, to have given students a chance to feel active makes a difference,” Jones said.
“Most civilians in Russia aren’t in support of the invasion, and as a club, we don’t stand for it either,” club member Lucy Thompson said. “I’m really happy to help raise money for Ukrainians and grateful that this club has provided me a way of doing so.”
Jones encouraged others in the school community to join the after-school club which meets most Tuesdays at 3:45 p.m. in room 151.
“If anyone is feeling helpless in the face of so much evil at work in our world, I would like them to know they can come join us in our humble efforts to help,” said Jones.