Bill and Larisa. Founders Larisa School of English Nikolaev Ukraine 2008

Twenty fifteen has brought about many new opportunities, friendships and more. As our life in Ukraine has changed, so has the world around us. Ukraine’s war with Russia. The world and terrorism. The world is facing a future completely uncharted. No way to fully understand everything around us.

Technology is changing at such a rapid pace, it’s impossible to know where the journey will end. The fact is that, nobody on earth can possibly understand what’s happening or know how to control it. This is how it should be. No one individual or country should make the decisions for another. Living in Ukraine for nearly eight years has given me an entirely different perspective on how the world turns. It’s good.

For every positive, there is a negative. For every disaster, there is success. For every life taken, there is the rebirth of another day. If one is willing to be creative and work hard, anything is possible. In Ukraine, opportunities are around every corner. That’s if you have the life experience to discover and develop them. For Larisa and I, teaching English has been the perfect business. That combined with Internet marketing and our coworking center, we stay busy here.

Our business model is completely unique to Ukraine and the world of language. Our primary goal has always been to teach the best English to as many Ukrainians as possible. Thousands right here in Nikolaev have benefited from our unique and time proven teaching methods. Blended learning and the flipped classroom are great ways to learn and speak fast.

Opportunities; Our language school has expanded four times over the past six+ years. Each time we had the opportunity to rent another office on the second floor, we took it.

Friendships; People travel to Ukraine from many countries. For business, pleasure and sometimes in search of a life partner. Larisa and I have met many new friends over the years. So many different countries, it is difficult to remember them all. Many students have found their way to other countries. Mostly for employment, sometimes to start their own business. Often students seek out education for the reason to immigrate to neighboring countries.

At least six dozen friends, work on ships that travel around the world. Cargo, sunflower oil, containers, grains, tomato paste and more are all about jobs and opportunities for our friends.

Business Ventures; Sadly, of the 16 men who had tried to start a business in Nikolaev, they all failed. Everything from sandwich shops, real estate ventures, property investment, marriage agencies, IT companies and more. Some have even tried their hand at opening and running a language school or two. Doing business in Ukraine isn’t easy. Most would say that doing business anywhere isn’t as simple as learning the ABC’s. I agree. like all businesses, you only get out what you put in.

Doing market research and making connections is the only way to do business in Ukraine long term. Being prepared and having friends beyond the borders doesn’t hurt either. Without a need and the ability to fully understand that need, businesses always fail.

Larisa School of Language; We are often asked why we named our school “Larisa”. In Ukraine, it’s extremely important to fully understand the power of marketing and the differences between other cultures. In America, consumers (in the general sense) trust advertising. At the very least, Americans are aware of the laws that have been designed to protect consumers. Sadly, the rule of law in Ukraine is part of a distant future that doesn’t exist today.

Most in Ukraine don’t trust anything the newspapers publish or broadcast advertising proclaims. We learned all about the ineffectiveness of newspaper advertising the first year in business. We haven’t paid a penny to them for over 5 years. Instead, we invested in the future with websites, business cards and word of mouth. Most of our students come from the latter. Connecting to the community has been an even larger goal that has returned our investment many times over. Why Larisa School of Language? Why not? Why not personalize a business. It is a great way to build a community based business.

The Future; The future of Ukraine is an unsure bet. That said, Ukrainians have an inner strength unknown to the rest of the world. True Ukrainians care about their country. They want prosperity and the ability to demonstrate to the rest of the world how to move from the past to the future. Our friends are some of the most determined people we have ever met. In the midst of difficult times and an uncertain future, true Ukrainians know they can do anything. Even in the face of pessimism and realism, Ukrainians true to their country, look forward to opportunities and prosperity. For our businesses, we will continue teaching the best English and helping as many as possible improve their lives and that of their families.

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