USC’s Philologos Society promotes academic versatility and community outreach

By Sofia Santana

Richard Petrosyan, founder and president of The Philologos Society, at an event with guest speaker Professor Patricia George from USC.
PHOTO courtesy The Philologos Society

Richard Petrosyan, a pre-med student studying neuroscience at the University of Southern California, spent his freshman year searching for an extracurricular activity that would allow him to exchange and debate ideas, grow academically and apply this knowledge into service for the community. After a failed search, he decided to create his own organization.

“I sought to create a platform on which it would really follow this idea of versatility,” Petrosyan said. “That not only would you go with the academic and intellectual part, you grow intellectually on your own, but you also put that into the service of the community. I thought it would be interesting to connect my organization with nonprofits and establish partnerships.”

In July 2019, The Philologos Society was born. Made up of 48 members with different majors, backgrounds and ages, the organization hosts various academic events such as debates, screenings, guest speaker conferences and even analytical writing, which gives members an opportunity to be published in the Philologos Times, the organization’s journal.

Members of The Philologos Society (or Philologians) also partner with Meals on Wheels West (MOW West) by serving senior citizens in Los Angeles’ coastal communities including Venice, Santa Monica and Marina del Rey who need assistance with meals, groceries and even health kits.

“We knock on the door, we deliver their meal, and pre-pandemic we used to have a seat, sometimes come in when they invited us and had long conversations with them, but this has now been substituted with another program,” Petrosyan said.

Although members who live in LA are still able to safely deliver meals, The Philologos Society is now participating in a newer program, the MOW West Phone Reassurance program. Philologians are provided with the contact information of community members and are able to provide information about local resources related to COVID-19, crisis lines, financial resources, or even just engage in comforting and friendly conversation.

“It has particularly taken route in Meals on Wheels when the pandemic started and this was about preventing the psychological burden of solitude by calling the clients,” Petrosyan said. “We provide them with support and not only ask them about their lives, but also crucial things like if they have COVID-19 symptoms and whether they need help with their medications. We try to prevent them from being lost during this time and point them to other social resources.”

The Philologos Society also partners with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Debate League (LAMDL), an organization that helps low-income and students of color gain access to a competitive debate forum where they are encouraged to share ideas and learn public speaking skills.

While the plans for the Fall 2021 semester are still uncertain and dependent on city and county guidelines, Petrosyan and his fellow Philologians plan to continue their virtual debates and academic events, along with their partnership with MOW West and LAMDL to help serve the community.

The Philologos Society regularly updates its social media platforms to keep members and the community informed of its events and services. To find more information about its executive board, the Philologos Times and ways to get involved, visit philologossociety.com

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