The Story of One Discovery

She took Oriental Studies at a Kyiv university, taught English in China and then opened a foreign language centre in her native Henichesk. Being a teacher, she keeps studying herself and attends all possible seminars and conferences. A grantee of the USAID-funded IOM initiative for labour migrants, Anna told us about her work in China, and why she prefers the Arabat Arrow to Shanghai.

Anna studied Chinese at the Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University. After receiving her bachelor's degree in 2010, she entered a master's programme in Shanghai and stayed in China after graduation. She tried many jobs, from interpreter to fitting model: it turned out that Anna had typical proportions of an Australian woman, and she was invited to fit on the clothes before bulk quantities for Australia were produced. However, the main job for Anna was teaching English.

“The Chinese are trying to teach their children good English, so there is a huge demand for teachers. And I have to say that children in China are highly motivated to study. As a teacher, I studied myself: to use international methods and the latest technical means, to encourage children and support their natural interest in learning,” says Anna. In China, she not only chose her profession but also started her family: she met Oleksandr, a Ukrainian who worked for a big industrial company. Later, in 2015, their daughter was born, and the family returned to Ukraine.

“We were back for food,” Anna laughs. “It is difficult to find healthy food in Shanghai, and all in all it is not a good place to raise a child. There is no place to play outdoors and the environment is a problem: the content of harmful elements in the air is ten times over the norm. It happened that my daughter and I couldn't go out for three or four days.” At first, the family moved to Kyiv, but it also appeared to be not too child-friendly, so they decided to settle in Anna's small homeland. The shallow warm sea, healing steppe air, fabulous landscapes of the Arabat Arrow and the eco-friendly farm food — Anna's happy childhood passed in the village near Henichesk, and her parents still live there.

The only thing lacking to raise a baby in Henichesk was educational opportunities. So, they had to be created! That’s how Anna came up with the idea of “Discovery”. They found a three-storeyed building with a cozy courtyard — the ground and first floors became a space for an education centre, and the family settled on the upper floor.

The number of courses offered by “Discovery” increases every year: there are already group and individual English, Chinese and Spanish lessons, preparation for the external independent evaluation and conversation groups for adults. Last year, Anna applied for the IOM’s pilot initiative for labour migrants and their families. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the initiative is based on the “1 + 1” principle ",  i.e. for each dollar of own funds invested in developing their business in Ukraine, participants receive another dollar as a non-refundable grant for the purchase of equipment.

“Migrant workers returning to Ukraine bring not only money they earned abroad but new experience, knowledge, and values as well. Look, Anna has brought modern methods of studying foreign languages to Henichesk,” says Ali Chabuk, Project Manager at IOM.

An interactive board, received as a grant from IOM, helps to support children's interest in learning. However, working with parents is also necessary: sometimes they have to be convinced that learning is important. “Unfortunately, many people would leave money in the bar or a nail salon, but they won’t spend the same amount for their child’s English lesson. We keep working on it,” Anna says.

“Discovery” is much more than a commercial enterprise, providing educational services for money. Anna uses every opportunity to stir up the cultural life of the local community: children's parties for Christmas and Halloween, charity lemonade days and even reading poems near the monument on Taras Shevchenko's birthday.

However, the biggest event for Anna was opening an all-day group for preschoolers. “My most cherished dream came true this fall — our only child began to attend a school that absorbed all my knowledge and ideas on early education,” she wrote in the social network. “Here we constantly keep an eye on the children. Here the kids are busy every minute. Here the children openly express their wishes, and the educators offer them different classes and manage the daily routine. Here they walk and move more than they sit. Here children get tired, but not bored. Here they often prepare the meal for themselves and they are happy to taste everything. Here they brush their teeth after the meal. Every day here is full of creativity that I myself am not capable of. Here they study English and tomorrow they will study Chinese, too. Here my child learned how to plank. And although we are few, but these children are the future.”

Over 260 labour migrants applied for the IOM pilot initiative, providing them opportunities to invest money they earned abroad in the development of their own business in Ukraine. Applications came from all the regions of Ukraine and covered a wide variety of spheres including industry, agriculture, construction, services, and education.