Roman Grushko is an LCC International University alumnus from Russia, who graduated in 2018 with a BA in Contemporary Communication. During his time at LCC, he was well known for his outgoing and friendly personality, as well as his singing talent. Roman has stayed in Lithuania and now works as a primary school teacher in a private school in Vilnius. His professionalism and dedication to the students is admirable. He feels very happy to be where he is today.
What are you doing at this moment of life?
I'm a primary school teacher, teaching Science, Math, and English to second-grade children in a private school in Vilnius called Saulės Gojus. It's a multiple intelligence oriented school that develops the strength of children according to their intelligence, predispositions, and talents. To master my teaching proficiency I also work at the Saturday School, which is an English learning club for children, as well as working as a private tutor from time to time. In my free time, I look for new hobbies and never turn down an opportunity to spend some time with my friends.
Back in LCC times, you were part of a music band. How and when did that emerge?
I was always into music myself and have been singing and playing piano since I was a kid. In my third year of studies, my best friend, who is a guitar player, and I thought of starting a band. We started looking for people who would be interested. Shortly after, we formed a group but it did not last and we broke up that band. However, at that point, the word had spread and we found new people to join us. We started performing at LCC events, and sometimes at bars and coffee shops. Occasionally, I was performing on my own. I fondly remember singing on the evening of the LCC 25th Anniversary celebration. It was a great experience and a pleasure to participate in such an important event, where I was able to reconnect with the graduates, faculty, and sponsors.
What is music to you?
Music is something that is always happening in my head. I cannot walk down the street without having a song or a melody going through my mind. Music is my mood mediator that enhances my emotional state whether I feel over the moon or a little sad. I listen to music when I want to relax or when I need to get some motivation and be more active. When it comes to performing I get very inspired by the audience who came to support and appreciate my work. This really motivates me to push myself harder and be better at what I do. Music impacts my life in so many different ways. What I like the most is that it brings back so many memories for me. Just listening to a song can transfer me back to a certain period of my life and reminds me of people associated with the moment.
What made you choose LCC over other universities?
I am from Kaliningrad so I always knew about LCC from my friends and other people from my town who went to study there. I really like the educational structure of LCC and the fact that it is an English speaking university. My decision was very easy after I went to the Summer Language Institute at LCC and got a taste of what it would feel like studying there. I was very persuaded by the sense of community and fell in love with the people I met there, as well as the professors. It was an amazing experience coming from a small town and seeing people from all over the world, who were friendly, outgoing, and interested in me and my culture. I was very convinced through that experience and knew that I wanted to study surrounded by those people and live in that international community.
What were your interests while studying at LCC?
In my first year of studies, I spent most of my time making friends, going out, exploring Klaipeda and Lithuania, and doing everything that involved having fun with my friends. In my second year and following, I became more serious towards my studies, realizing that I had the best professors and that my classes were not only useful but entertaining as well. I consider myself to be very lucky because of the outstanding people that taught me, some of them coming to LCC just for a semester. Those classes changed me in many different ways. I see evidence of my personal and academic growth from my time at LCC.
What experience during your time at LCC has influenced you the most?
I was a First-Year Seminar student leader, which was a very rewarding experience for me and hopefully for my student group as well. Being an FYS student leader changed my perception of life and of the people around me. I truly understood what it meant to be open-minded and I learned to exclude bias and stereotypes from my thinking. I learned the importance of listening over speaking and have used the self-discovery principle in my teaching. I enjoyed helping people step out of their comfort zones in hope that they would see the world of possibilities right in front of them. I loved being a leader and seeing my students’ growth. I appreciated their trust and gratitude towards me. I can definitely say that being a student leader has influenced my future career choice.
What is your favorite thing about LCC?
My favorite thing about LCC is the cultural diversity and all the great things that come with it. One thing I can say for sure is that it taught me how to look at people as people rather than seeing them through the lens of their citizenship or religion. I found so many international friends and made deep connections with them because they also were not looking at me as a walking stereotype and were not biased because of my nationality. They listened to my story and were interested in me as a person, which made my worldview change the same way. When other people were interested in my country's government and my opinion on it they would simply ask, and I would do the same when I was curious about a foreign topic I was not familiar with. LCC and its community also taught me how to make a good first impression and how to politely approach people of different cultures and religions.
What did you do after graduation?
I moved to Vilnius right away after my graduation because I wanted to stay in Lithuania. I applied to many different positions that I thought would be a good fit for me. I went to a few interviews and realized that I did not have some of the skills required. After some time, I finally found the job that I have now. I didn’t expect to become a primary school teacher, especially so recently after being a student myself.
How did your teaching journey begin?
I was teaching as an FYS leader at LCC and quite often did some private tutoring at that time. It was always a pleasure to me knowing that I can help somebody move closer to achieving their goals. When I was applying for this job, I did not have much teaching experience, but as a communication major, I knew how to work with people. I know how to present the information in an engaging and entertaining way, I often use music when I teach and it always helps kids to be more present during the lessons and remember the material better. By learning my own value at LCC, I also know how to represent myself ethically, talking about my strengths and weaknesses from a practical perspective. So when I was competing for this position with someone with a teaching degree, my knowledge of how to properly represent myself came in handy, which resulted in me getting this job and starting my teaching journey.
What do you like the most about your job?
Being a teacher is a very rewarding job that allows me to build a strong connection with my students. The feeling of their trust, friendship, and being able to spend time with them is just priceless to me. As a part of the school routine, I always eat meals over one big table with another teacher and the children. Every time we begin by saying, “Thank you for sharing. Thank you for caring. Thank you for being together. Bon Appetit!” This is my favorite part of the day because I get to know more about my students and spend time laughing with them and listening to their stories. The children’s words make me feel important and valued and makes me want to work harder for them. Teaching these kids has also made me understand how powerful and influential music is in terms of education, which can be used as an efficient learning technique. I create songs that my students and I sing together, which helps them to learn and understand the material better while having fun at the same time.
Can you tell me about a day in the life of a teacher?
First, I feel tired because with school days and Saturday school, I work six days a week and it can be exhausting at times. I am not a morning person but I have to wake up early every day to be at work at 7:30 in the morning. I get to school half an hour before the lessons start to interact with the children for a bit. After that, we all gather in a circle on the floor to talk about what’s new in their lives, such as achievements, competitions, or some events. Later, we have a prayer breakfast together and begin our lessons. My colleague and I take turns teaching, so when I am on a break I check assignments and create other fun activities to do. After the lessons, we have lunch together and go outside for some games. I usually finish my work in the early afternoon and go home to do private tutoring. On some days I try to take up a new hobby or watch some courses myself to keep moving and grow personally, as well as professionally.
What advice can you give to LCC students?
I would advise LCC students to appreciate the people around them, and to learn the skill of listening. Listening is a powerful and useful tool that will come in handy to you throughout your whole life. Another important skill that you should try to master is the ability to present yourself properly and make a good first impression as a distinguished expert in your field of knowledge. I would also recommend the students to stay true to themselves despite other people’s opinions. In order to represent yourself, you need to know who you are in the first place, not how you want others to see you. If you want to make friends and make a good first impression, do it by showing your interest in people rather than expecting them to do so.
What are your plans for the future?
In the future, I would like to develop my expertise as a teacher. I am currently taking an online course to receive my teaching certificate. I want to take up new hobbies and learn more about my skills and capabilities that I may not have discovered yet. Every day I work on building my network with the hope that one day I will be able to open my own educational institution that would have unique and effective teaching methods for children of all ages.