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At the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

michigan kayakingYears of Russians at Michigan...

RSA History

The University of Michigan Russian Speakers Association was founded in the early 1990s when a small, close-knit group of Russian immigrants attending the University decided to get together and establish a more organization. Initially, the organization's founders, mostly young guys, were looking for a good reason to meet more Russian women. Although the club began as a way of social mingling, it grew into an organization centered on immersing its members in Russian culture and society of the past and present. Over the past few years, members became more motivated and created an executive board, consisting of about five members every year, which handles all of the administrative tasks associated with club functions, finances and communication with University faculty. All of the executive board members have also formed strong ties and have become as close-knit group of friends as the original founders had intended.

The Winter Palace and the Hermitage Museum on the Neva River
St. Petersburg, Russia

Through social events, movie nights, cultural gatherings and exposure to the Slavic elements of the University of Michigan, the organization has developed into an outlet for Russian-speaking students. Members represent a diverse group, from immigrants of all 15 former Soviet Republics to American-born students who share a Russian heritage, as well as students with other cultural roots who are interested in learning about and engaging in the Russian culture and language. The club has also extended its reach beyond the student body as membership also includes those from the large Russian community within the greater Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit Area. Today, the club is a strong and viable organization that seeks to both educate its members on Russian history, culture, literature and the arts and to also provide members with the forum for discussion and socializing. The strong growth of the club is a reflection of both the commitment of the executive board to please the expectations of their members and the members' desires to ultimately have fun with fellow Russians and friends!

RSA Mission

The University of Michigan Russian Speakers Association seeks to provide Russian-speaking students with an outlet for socializing as well as to immerse them in the culture of their ancestors. The organization feels a strong commitment to the development of its members and to establishing their connection to both Russian history and modern culture and society. The club serves to facilitate social and cultural gatherings and to become the student's source of information for Russian-associated events on-campus and in the greater Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan in general.

RSA General Information

- Founded in early 1990s.

- Registered student organization with Michigan Student Assembly, partially funded by the University.

- Shares ties to the Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies and Slavic Department at the University of Michigan.

- Participates in organized cultural/ethnic events on campus, often asked to represent the Russian minority on campus at various events.

- Strong connections with alumni and community members.

- No fees to join the club or participate in most hosted by RSA.

- Events held mostly around campus area and downtown Ann Arbor, usually do not require formal association from members.


Does everyone speak Russian?
One of the goals of our organization is to help members who come from a Russian/Slavic heritage reconnect with their culture. However, because many of our members are not native speakers of the Russian language, we often speak in English to make sure that no one is left out of the conversation. We often converse freely, alternating between the two languages. Our only suggestion for members is to be mindful of their audience during conversation.

Do you have to know Russian?
There are absolutely no linguistic or ethnic or any other sort of requirements barring any interested individual from membership and participation at events. In fact, we are proud to sport a diverse membership, consisting of everyone from native-speaking exchange students from Russia to non-Russian students who simply have a casual interest in the language and culture, who may or may not have taken any Russian classes at the University.

Do movies have subtitles?
RSA members are welcome to attend occasional movie nights hosted by the organization. We always turn on subtitles, making sure everyone can understand and enjoy the story. Culture-specific idioms and humor may be explained by native-speakers for members who may have a hard time understanding the details of character interactions.

Does RSA offer tutoring?
Current members are very accomodating to the needs of fellow RSA members, and are often willing to help interested students with language and culture instruction. However, we would encourage everyone to first contact the Slavic Department at the University and inquire into the availability of tutoring or extra office hours.

Are there any membership dues?

None, except for special trip fees (Skiing, Kayaking, etc.) if you choose to attend these events.

Are events always on the same day?
Weekly RSA gatherings are usually held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We frequently host additional events durin weekends and other days of the week. Please check the upcoming events list for details.

Do you need to be a U of M student to be in RSA?
The Board, and the majority of our members are current University of Michigan students. However, membership is open to all interested individuals residing in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and the surrounding areas, and we are fortunate to have a diverse group of people.

Can one bring a friend?
The more the merrier :-)

I am interested in becoming a board member? How can I go about it.
Participation at events, willingness to assist with planning and preparation, and the general disposition of our members tells us a lot about who may be a good prospect for taking on leadership roles in our organization. Feel free to approach any of the current board members to discuss Board Membership requirements and show interest in taking on more responsibility as an RSA Board Member.

What is the difference between Russian Club and RSA?
The official name of our organization is Russian Speakers Association at the University of Michigan. We are more informally known as "the Russian Club" on campus and the two names may be used interchangeably.

Where can I buy good Russian food?

We're still looking too... let us know if you find something!



The Russian Bear

The Michigan Wolverine


St. George
The Victory-Bearer

St. George is the patron saint of Moscow and the whole of the Russian Federation. The image of St. George slaying the dragon is portrayed on the Russian Coat of Arms, in the middle of the two-headed eagle. Moscow has more statues and monuments dedicated to St. George than any other city in the world.


Kremlin at night, Moscow



Sergey Fedorov


polar bears

Polar Bears


russian dance

Russian Dancing



More Polar Bears

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Slavic Dep.
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