Carving Your Niche

Of Russian descent, raised in Israel, and after having spent her youth in Canada, Nelly, with a background in history and fine arts returned to us as a native English teacher at ITMO University.

Since September last year, Nelly has been working at the Foreign Language Training Center at ITMO University as a native English speaking teacher, one of several important members of the team. About her experience at the Center she says: 

"I feel like people are really in love with what they do, I don't know anyone who works here other than those that truly love teaching, teachers share resources and there's a really strong collective spirit. Sometimes there are arguments but they are resolved easily. This environment amongst teachers impacts students; positive dynamic amongst teachers transcends into the classroom, making learning a fun process”

Of course not many students studying English in Russia are lucky enough to learn with native speakers of the language, so our ITMO students have a special opportunity. But it's not just them that are so lucky. "I have students who created and designed apps at the age of 17, the only thing that stops them from becoming well known is English, but if I can help them to push their project further by giving those skills that they need then I've done something that is meaningful".

This is already Nelly’s third year living in Russia, having returned for the first time in her adulthood. She studied fine arts at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. “The way they teach art here is amazing, it's focused on skills, it's rooted in tradition, it goes from master to student for 300 years ago, disciples teach disciples, they teach academic art, painting, sculptures.”

“The emphasis is on accuracy first and self-expression second, it's more about being a good craftsmen,” explains Nelly, she also shares about how the atmosphere can be challenging as teachers are not afraid to criticize, so if you aren’t used to the system it can be hard, often they criticize you and not your work, and this can negate enthusiasm, but you learn not to take yourself too seriously. Over all its a humbling experience.

From these varied study and work experiences that Nelly has had living in Russia as an adult, she says that something that has really struck her is how hardworking everyone is “I learned that in the Academy, people work from morning to night, and it’s hard to be creative for such a long period, and I learned it here at ITMO too, people really work hard, they earn their bread, yet they don't work just for money, they work for what they believe in”.

About her experience teaching at ITMO, she further shares, "I like teaching at ITMO, I like the freedom here in terms of how you plan your lessons and what you teach, you can integrate other resources and there's room for personal growth, you can design courses and lead them. For me it's important to be fascinated and challenged. In the future I would like to carve out an interdisciplinary niche for myself, incorporating both of my backgrounds into my teaching career.” 

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