Some of the future leaders of Russia
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During the evening of the previous Thursday, I tagged along to a student gathering with one of our Russian guides, Nadya. She was attending a meeting of Grazhdanskaya Smena, the Civil Shift. This organization is a Moscow-based student club that enables students from all the universities of Moscow to come together and work on projects ranging from class works, to civic duty activities, to business plans.
This club is two years old and gives students from more than fifty different universities a common forum in which to work together. The three main areas of the club are Activities, Government, and Business. I found this to be somewhat similar to American student clubs, but quite interesting because of the organization’s supra-university standing. This model seems almost alien, American students are generally more accustomed to university-based clubs that usually don’t interact with clubs from other schools. I am sure this is partly to blame due to the distances between American educational centers.
The Activities branch organizes various things for students to do on holidays and weekends, and might also be called the Social branch. The Government organization works with the Moscow government and proposes ideas that could be implemented and also sends students to work with officials from each of the city’s thirty-nine districts in something akin to an internship program. The Business side of Grazhdanskaya Smena allows students to make proposals for current businesses or for a new business. If the idea is good enough, the students can organize their enterprises and may receive funding from the club (provided by Moscow’s government budget).
Although I merely sat quietly on a couch and watched the proceedings, I could sense the camaraderie and willingness of the students to work together for their common benefit. As Nadya told me, it allows students to present their problems and hear many various viewpoints and solutions; the biggest thing was working towards and arriving at a solution that suited everyone. A large banner on the wall read, “You are in the answer to your country’s future,” and the smiling portrait of Putin on the opposite wall left me feeling that I was in the company of the future leaders of this great country.