Under the Knife: Slavic Club spreads European traditions

Slavic Club, the newest of Geneseo's culture-based organizations, received Student Association funding on Feb. 10 and its leaders said they were excited about its first meeting being packed with interested students.

Co-founders of the group are juniors Michael Hereth, president, and Sean Heyneman, who is studying abroad in Moscow this semester. Senior Sarah Bradley is vice president and junior Emily Durstewitz will serve as treasurer.

Hereth said that while casual interest in a club for those interested in the Slavic countries has been around for some time, no one had ever taken the initiative to start an officially recognized organization until now. He said that because Geneseo only offers Russian language courses through the 200-level, Slavic Club can serve as a sort of continuum for those who remain interested in the language and culture after completing the courses.

"This is a medium to continue not only the language part of [the curriculum], but just everyone who's interested in the Slavic realm," Hereth said.

The club will promote "the appreciation and celebration of everything Slavic," Hereth said. The word "Slavic" refers to an ethnic and linguistic group of people who reside primarily in Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.

Though Slavic Club is in its infancy, its members are ripe with ideas including trips to Slavic eateries, festivals and establishments in Rochester and Buffalo, a Russian tea and desserts night, interactive games and presentations open to the student body at large, discussions of current events relating to Russia and eastern Europe, collaborations with other cultural groups, movie showings and celebrations of Russian holidays.

"We encourage anyone with any interest to come," Hereth said. Though the club will occasionally have nights in which Russian is spoken, Durstewitz said there will also be "fun interactive stuff, informal get-togethers, potlucks and that sort of thing."

The club will also rely on professors with some background in Slavic language and culture, notably Robert Goeckel, Cynthia Klima, Margaret Stolee and club advisor Jane Shuffelton.

Junior Jeanna Tigley, a member of the club, said she became interested in Russian after learning about the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, when a nuclear power plant reactor exploded.

"The more you learn [about the Slavic culture], it's still not enough," she said, noting that there is diversity even within the countries that were formerly part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Slavic Club meets Thursdays at 6 p.m. in Welles 210. Those interested can contact one of the officers or join the Facebook group, "Slavic Club."