The Russian Speaking Club has opened its doors for everyone

In addition to the two existing venues for meetings with international students, the TSU Russian Speaking Club has introduced a new one – the Research Library. The weekly club meetings aren't exclusive to TSU students anymore: from now on, anyone can attend them. The number of visits in this academic year is anticipated to grow to at least 200. This contributes to the goal set by the TSU Russian Speaking Club – to give international students guidance and help them get involved in university life and the citywide community. 

The club is seeing the seventh year of its activity in the dormitory Parus and its second year in Mayak. With the beginning of the new season, the Russian Speaking Club finally brings to life the longstanding idea of a platform based at the TSU Research Library that is open not only for the TSU students. From this academic year, any student of the Big University of Tomsk can have access using the campus card; residents of Tomsk will have access if they show the reader's ticket. 

"During six years of our work, the club saw an increase in interest. Last semester, when everyone went offline, and international students started rapidly arriving in Tomsk, the club hosts kept on receiving requests to let in not only the TSU affiliates, but folks from other universities as well. After all, international students in Tomsk hold on to their fellow countrymen," says the founder and coordinator of the club, associate professor of the Department of Russian Language of the Faculty of Philology of TSU Anna Shevchik. "Take Latin America: students from nine Latin American countries study at TSU alone. They know each other, they befriend each other, no matter which university they study at. And of course, they want to bring their friends to the speaking club." 

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The TSU Russian Speaking Club

As with the Mayak and Parus venues, the library meetings with international students are carried out with active involvement of volunteer students that have Russian as their mother tongue. Experienced moderators are present at every venue: Valentina Manashova hosts meetings in the Research Library and Tatiana Stakanova and Daniil Zgerskiy in the two dormitories. 

A certain pool of topics had formed in the club: attendees find them interesting and useful, at the same time, they remove the language barrier effectively, help students to open up and make it clear that these people are interesting here. For example, when speaking Russian, international attendees talk about their home, their homeland, its culture, and famous people from their country. 

In turn, moderators and volunteers help international students learn about the history, traditions, and life of Tomsk and Russia by organizing "field meetings" for various events; about traveling to other places on the planet; and about university life. In a pressure-free environment, students are told, for instance, how the mid-term examination is organized and how to "survive" it, and how to address a teacher to solve a question. 

"Many things seem quite different to international students, as opposed to Russian ones. They come from a different reality. For example, in the cultures of Southeast Asia, teaching staff are people of very high status, you should be grateful to them just for the time they gave you in class, and the student has no right to take up extra time. Here we explain that our staff appreciates the interest and motivation of students and will not refuse to help. Then the international students pass this information to each other, and this exchange is very useful for them," says Anna Shevchik

On average, one club venue gathers 12–15 students at each meeting. Thus, statistics show that over six seasons, about 600 students have visited the club – including international ones and those who became Russian-speaking volunteers. This year, taking into account three offline venues, we expect a "full house" – more than 200 unique visits in a year.

"In the dormitories, the TSU Russian Speaking Club holds meetings on Fridays at 19 PM; at the Research Library it’s on Mondays at 18 PM. We already noticed some international students attending on both Mondays and Fridays, even though it's just one topic per week. But the especially motivated guys that want to speak Russian with different native speakers as much as possible use this opportunity to its fullest extent," explains Anna Shevchik

The Russian Speaking Club venues can be found on the 7th floor of the dormitory Parus (Pixels Place Hall); in the study room on the 1st floor of dormitory Mayak; and in the English Reading Room of the Research Library. 

To learn more about the club and to keep track of its events, follow the official group on Vkontakte