Alumna Drawn to Teaching Opportunity in Lithuania

North Park Alumna Teaching in Lithuania

KLAIPEDIA, LITHUANIA (October 16, 2009) – Grace Butkevich had just over a month to apply for, accept, and start her new job overseas teaching the Intensive English Program to Eastern Europeans at LCC International University, a Christian liberal arts institution in Lithuania.

“Most faculty go through the interview and hiring process, raise support, and prepare for their term of service over a period of several months to years,” says the 2006 North Park graduate.

She faced additional challenges that would be daunting to most teachers. “I actually arrived on Friday, August 28, and only had the weekend to get ready for classes, which began September 1,” Butkevich says. “Jet lag and a little bit of culture shock made that first week pretty rough, but I’m feeling much more at ease now.”

Butkevich, who majored in French, taught two English as second a language (ESL) courses at North Park while completing her master’s degree in linguistics and ESL at nearby Northeastern Illinois University.

She has been interested in teaching ESL since she was a freshman in high school. That interest was strengthened when she attended CHIC, the Evangelical Covenant Church’s triennial youth event that attracts about 6,000 people.

“I was impacted by several speakers who talked about their experiences abroad sharing the gospel,” Butkevich says. “So, when I first learned about LCC International University this summer, something just clicked. I had an overwhelming sense that serving here would allow me to put all of the gifts and talents God had given me and the desires He had placed in my heart into practice.”

She adds, “I believe that Colossians 3:17 is a perfect guideline for this or any position when it says, ‘And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.’ I believe that by serving as an English language instructor here at LCC, God can use even me to expand His kingdom.”

LCC was formed almost immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its goal of transforming a part of Europe that suffered long under Communist rule especially attracted Butkevich.

The school declares on its website that it seeks “to engage students in a transforming educational experience in order to create a generation of leaders for Eastern Europe who think critically, promote democratic ideals, develop a market economy, and rebuild the network of civil society within the context of a Christian worldview.”

LCC currently offers majors and minors in business, theology, and English, as well as minors in Lithuanian studies, conflict studies, psychology, and sociology. The university has an excellent reputation, as does its ESL program, but the intensive English program (IEP) in which Butkevich teaches is only in its second year. “It provides intensive English instruction for students who applied to the university but whose English ability fell short of requirements,” she explains.

Thankfully, the students seem quite eager to learn, Butkevich says. “The class is very international, consisting of students from Belarus, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, so it’s a treat for me to meet such an array of people.”

While Butkevich enjoys teaching, she is also looking to connect in other settings. “I am also very thankful already for the times outside of class when I’ve had the opportunity to talk with students on a more personal level.”