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Ilyana Almasoud 31+
I was born in a small town in Donetsk region. Makeevka. I am half Syrian, half Ukrainian. My father was away when I was born. I was 3 when I met him for the first time. I remember that meeting. He was kneeling with a smile on his face and Syrian colorful candies in his hands.
We moved to Syria shortly after. We lived in a couple of cities there. Some were nice but Aleppo was the most challenging to live in. There, at the age of 9 I was the only Christian student in my elementary school. I had to learn the Quran by heart because I wanted to be accepted among my classmates and teachers.
At 14, together with my mother and brother we moved to Ukraine. I went to 9th grade with excellent spoken Russian and terrible writing and reading skills. I knew half of the Russian alphabet and zero Ukrainian. It was another challenge to fit in. By the end of that year I had become top of my class in most subjects. Russian grammar/spelling is still my weakest point though.
At 15 I went to visit my father in the summer and had to stay there. I lived with my grandparents and aunts in Damascus till my family united again in Damascus a year and a half later.
My parents got divorced when I was 18. And I had to take care of my father and little brother for a couple of years.
When choosing a university I was torn between Fine Arts and English Language and literature. Opt for the latter. I met the best English professors in Damascus University. Many of them were and still are tremendous source of inspiration for me.
Some of the most memorable jobs I had were working as an interpreter at Damascus international film festivals, another job involved travelling and acting as part of educational program by Syrian Trust and finally, teaching at higher language institute.
My brother and I had to leave Syria in 2012, a year after the war broke out. We didn’t even know back then that we would not be able to go back. With few things in our suitcases we moved to Donetsk, Ukraine and had to start all over again.
In 2013 I got married and soon the war broke out in Eastern Ukraine. So once again I had to move. Together with my husband we moved to Kyiv the day the railway station was bombed in Donetsk.
I worked as a teacher in Kyiv and in 2015 opened my own language center. We called it Fusion Language Group. My vision was to have a place that would be more than just a language school but a platform that will bring different people together to share, open up, learn and expand as individuals. It has been a warm and friendly place ever since, it is a place where teaching is an art.
We separated with my husband last year but we are still great partners and friends. Despite all the peace we tried to sustain during this period, the separation was harder than the two wars I had witnessed :)
Working with people is my greatest teacher. I am grateful for the compassion and depth my friends, family and students teach me to feel and for the admiration and enthusiasm I have every time I get the chance to meet bright and beautiful hearts on my winding life path.