Selkirk College, Attn: Elena Seredynska (on-leave)
301 Frank Beinder Way, Castlegar BC, V1N 4L3, Canada
I always wanted to work in the international field. Growing up in the Soviet Union, I wondered about the world beyond the ‘iron curtain’ and dreamt of becoming an interpreter at the UN. So when the country disintegrated in 1991, I decided to I earn a BA in English and French. Being already fluent in three other languages, I thought that I was set to serve at the UN with dedication and enthusiasm. Yet, as graduation drew near, I began to realize that I wanted to do more than just interpret. I actually wanted to make a difference.
I traveled to the Republic of Ireland to earn an MA in International Relations. As part of the program, the university organized a one-week field trip to the UN headquarters in Geneva. During our daily observations there, several eye-opening incidents took place that made me realize a simple fact - real change is only possible if it first occurs in people's minds. And what better way to change minds and perspectives than as a university professor?
I looked at several Canadian universities and decided on the University of Toronto, where a PhD in International Development was offered free of charge as long as successful applicants agreed to teach seminars and mark student essays. In 2003, I was accepted into that program and spent the following nine years on full-time coursework and research while also running large seminars and marking hundreds of student papers. With two young children on my hands and mounting family problems, I was eventually compelled to put the defense of my thesis on hold until better times.
In the meantime, I turned to online tutoring. To my surprise, teaching English to future international students was rewarding and fairly stress-free. The only downside was the relative isolation of home-based work. Being an extrovert, I missed the classroom. Therefore, in 2016, I earned a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) from Cambridge University – a prestigious international qualification recognized by TESL Canada.
In June 2017, I started teaching at Selkirk College and it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have finally come full circle to make a real difference in international relations. One grateful student at a time.