Alisiia Mokhunova is an LCC International University alumni from Ukraine. She graduated from LCC in 2018, majoring in Contemporary Communication. After graduation, Alisiia went on a journey of self-discovery as an Altrenativi International volunteer in Bulgaria. During her time there, she found her passion for teaching and shortly after went to Georgia to master her teaching skills and receive a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA). Now, she is trying to pursue her dream of being a professional teacher and create her own English courses to make a difference in people’s lives.
Alisiia is an extremely ambitious person who takes on any task with enthusiasm and devotion. In addition to her passion for teaching, she is very fond of reading, experimental cooking, and volunteering. Alisiia has nothing but good memories of her time at LCC. She misses her "second home" and hopes to come back and visit one day.
How do you keep yourself busy these days?
I have recently started a new chapter of my life that constantly keeps me occupied. I have been teaching English for quite some time now, as well as working on my personal educational projects.
Did you know you wanted to be a teacher while studying at LCC?
During my time at LCC, I had few students that I was tutoring, but I wasn’t thinking of teaching as a possible career choice. Since I was majoring in Contemporary Communication I was more interested and passionate about organizational communication and design. I realized that I wanted to be a teacher sometime after my graduation and I am very glad that it turned out this way. I want to be the kind of teacher that makes a difference and helps students to become the individuals they aspire to be. I have to admit that after my experience at LCC with all the amazing and inspiring teaching staff there, the bar for being a good teacher is very high and hard to follow. I hope that my teaching proficiency, the effort and all the hard work I put into it, will later bring me my desired results.
What did you do after graduation?
Unlike some of my friends, I did not have a clear idea of what I wanted to immediately do with my life. I think I was not ready to accept the fact that my student years were behind me and that it was time to close that chapter of my life and move forward. During the summer after graduation, I found an internship as a Communication Manager in the marketing performance reporting platform called Whatagraph. It was a great experience that allowed me to improve my organizational communication skills and gave me the foundation to continue working in communications. After my internship, I moved back to Ukraine and started working for a startup company, which did not turn out as I had hoped it would. At that moment, I realized that I was pushing myself to do something I was not ready for mentally and emotionally. As a result, I applied for the volunteering program called Alternativi International and spent the following year in Bulgaria.
Can you tell us more about your volunteering experience?
To begin with, the Alternativi International program is aimed at youth development, and most of the time I was working with children, teaching them English and Russian languages. Together with other volunteers, we would organize different projects and activities. We were mostly working with middle school students but often tried to engage university students and encourage them to apply for the Erasmus cultural exchange program. During my time in Bulgaria, I was also working with local churches providing food for the homeless and helping out in any other way needed. At that time, serving people and being in that intercultural environment once again was like a breath of fresh air for me. It has benefited me in so many different ways that giving felt more like receiving.
What were your main takeaways from this volunteering experience?
I think the biggest takeaway from this experience was my sudden desire to become a teacher. I realized that becoming a teacher and educating people is what I want to do for a living. My time in Bulgaria gave me the time to think and understand myself better. I started thinking about what kind of person I wanted to be and what I needed to do to achieve that. It was refreshing to meet new people and get a different perspective on my life.
How have you changed after this volunteering experience?
This volunteering experience helped me to be on good terms with myself. I feel good and proud of myself for achieving what I have achieved so far and becoming the person I am today. After graduation, I felt a little down because I did not go right away for my Master’s degree and because I did not have a clear career path planned like some of my friends. This was always nagging me like I was doing something wrong and should have done better. My time in Bulgaria made me realize something I should have from the very beginning. It's important to live your life at your own pace. I became more confident and motivated in any task I took on and did it with pleasure. In addition, my volunteering experience helped me to discover a new side of myself and added a piece to my life puzzle.
Do you have any plans for the near future?
After I seriously decided to take up teaching, I went to Tbilisi, Georgia, to receive a proper teaching training. To be more specific, I completed my CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) training qualification. Now I feel more confident in my professional skills and plan to develop my own English language courses for adults. I am very passionate about this idea and spend most of my free time working on the methodology I would like to implement in my courses. I want to master what I am currently doing and establish a specific teaching strategy of my own. Later, I would like to expand my audience and develop a learning strategy for children, as well as adults. I try not to look too far ahead, but getting my Master’s degree is definitely something I would like to accomplish. I have no idea where I would like to study. I will take my time to explore my interests and possibilities and make the right decision, just like I did when initially choosing LCC.
What do you miss the most about LCC?
LCC was a very special place for me. I left home as a child, to learn but also to grow up and mature in the setting of this amazing international community. Even though I was far away from home, I never felt alone and always had people supporting and guiding me throughout the four years of my life at LCC. I met people, grew very close and shared happy memories but also faced all kinds of struggles together, bringing us closer. LCC was the place where I felt safe and knew that I was surrounded by kind and loving people, who were there for each other. That feeling of being a part of the LCC community is what I miss the most. The students, faculty, and staff are what make LCC the significant place it is. How can I not miss being a part of it?
Have your hobbies and interests changed over these few years since your graduation?
I think that just like any other person, every day I learn something new and discover more of myself from a different perspective. I think my interests have greatly changed over this time, just like my perception of myself. When I was a student I loved trying out new things, especially in cooking. I have to admit that part of being a part of an international community has its perks. Learning how to cook dishes from other cultures was one of my favorite hobbies, as well as experimenting with my own recipes. Sunday breakfasts with my friends and floor-mates were definitely a highlight of my time at LCC.
Another perk of living in an international community is the ability to learn about foreign countries and their cultures. My friends were always very welcoming and eager for me to visit and experience their homelands. Traveling has now become a big part of my life and has greatly influenced my growth as a person. Both cooking and traveling remain my highest interests in life. I think the only thing that changed in me, was my fascination with teaching and reading.
Can you give some advice to the current students of LCC?
LCC is an incredible place filled with smart and creative minds. Studying in such an encouraging environment surrounded by people who are eager to learn and grow can also put pressure on students to be on the same level with others. My advice to current students would be to measure their progress by reflecting on their accomplishments and growth, rather than comparing themselves to someone else. Also, do not stress out or feel pressured because you do not have your life figured out and planned, even if some of your friends or classmates might already have done so. You need to move forward and grow at your own pace, take time to think, and make rational decisions based on what you actually want. Remember that it is okay to feel lost and scared of what the future holds. Don’t keep it to yourself, share your worries with your friends and even faculty. Those people are always there for you and that is what makes the LCC community so special.
As you have experienced personally, LCC prioritizes helping students study here by helping to provide financial support. During your LCC years, you were introduced to the people who made it possible for you to study. Can you tell us about that relationship?
As an LCC student, I was very lucky to get the privilege of receiving both financial and emotional support from my sponsors, Erwin and Connie Braun. I was given the opportunity to build relationships not only with them, but with their friends, Rene and Dennis Neumann. I was thrilled to hear their life stories, which were very inspirational to me. Although I did not have an opportunity to spend much time with my sponsor Connie, she was very kind and even sent me her book that she authored. She has Ukrainian roots and wrote a book about the difficulties her family faced while living under the USSR rule. It was an amazing experience reading it and getting to know her through her work. After my graduation, I kept in touch with Connie’s friend, Rene for another year, exchanging emails and talking about all the great changes that were happening in our lives. I am very grateful for these people that actually cared for me and wanted to see me grow and succeed. I have very warm memories of our gatherings that always ended up with sincere and meaningful conversations. My sponsors Erwin and Connie, as well as Rene and Dennis, will always have a special place in my life. LCC gave me an opportunity to build a personal connection with these amazing people, who had a great impact on me. Because of Connie and Erwin's sponsorship, I was able to study at LCC, grow as a person, make lasting friendships, and challenge myself to do great things that would not have been possible without their help.