I have been privileged to work at a number of universities and language institutes from the United States to Greece to Ukraine, but my position at EAS has been one of the most satisfying in my career. I say this for several reasons.
Firstly, EAS administrators recognize the importance of maintaining high academic standards as the primary principle motivating all of the school’s activities, and instructors are given a great deal of freedom to conduct courses that accommodate student plans and abilities. This relationship of trust between administration and faculty inspires both responsibility and professionalism at all levels.
Secondly, the students that I have been privileged to teach so far have been extremely bright, polite, enthusiastic and sincere, which means that our lessons have been very pleasant. In my long career as a teacher, only the Russians and Ukrainians have been willing to express their gratitude by saying “Thank you” at the end of each lesson, which seems like a small thing until we consider that there are apparently students the world over who take their teachers for granted, or see them merely as a means to an end. I’ve always had the impression that my Russian students value the process of learning as an end in itself, and for that very reason they can be patient and grateful and respectful.
Finally, I am no longer surprised to find that my students and I have often exchanged roles, and that I have become the student who is taught by those excellent instructors, my students, who are willing to communicate with such candid English about Russian culture, history, politics, economy. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of this job is a willingness on my students’ part to communicate in ways that break down barriers and make us see that we, Americans and Russians, aren’t so different after all.