INSIGHT LINGUA CELEBRATES 25 YEARS!
This year, Insight Lingua Russia celebrates 25 years in business - a fantastic achievement and one they are quite rightly, very proud of. Started by Elena Solomonova who you’ll also have seen is one of our #First50, and now co-run with daughter Anastassia Romanenko - here is their story as told by Anastassia.
Insight Lingua started in 1992 during a time of huge changes in our country and also of big opportunities. The cold war had come to an end and USSR citizens received the opportunity to travel to other countries. (Before it was only possible to go abroad in an organized group, mostly to countries like Bulgaria, Poland, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. A place in such group was very hard to get and each group was accompanied by a KGB officer.) So people were very excited about new possibilities.
Elena was working as a computer programmer at a state research institution, their team was dedicated to research for the space industry and she had not only been forbidden to travel abroad, but also not allowed any contact with foreigners. So when a university friend of hers offered her to go to England with a group of students as a group-leader (because she could speak good English), she was very excited and immediately agreed - out of 10 people in that group, including herself, no one had ever been outside of USSR before!
I still remember how excited she was about that trip and how impressed she was with the totally different way of life in the UK. After that trip this friend offered her to work with him, and he, his business partner and Elena started a language travel agency. Elena was very inspired by this opportunity to give people and her own daughter a chance to visit other countries and learn other cultures.
Next year I was sent to Bournemouth to study English - also my very first trip abroad. And since then for a while I was "working" as a guinea pig to test all new educational products. By the end of nineties the agency was already working with many English and non-English speaking destinations and started sending not only individual students or wholesale groups, but also accumulating groups of juniors together on a larger scale.
After the financial crisis in 1998 we were facing a rather hard period, so we merged with another equally sized agency and continued developing together. We started working with academic students, private schools, colleges and universities as well.
As a role model, my mother influenced me a lot. My father died in a tragic accident when I was 6 years old, and she had to live with it, being strong and taking care herself of both of us. This is why she was open to take on any opportunity that came up. She has also always been an "A-plus girl" - whatever she does, work or study, she always has to achieve the best possible result, and it doesn't matter if she is competing with men or women.
One of the things that I think is very special about our company is our team. We tend to have key people staying with us much longer than average. We have student advisors who have been with us for 10, 15 and even 20 years. All of them are really committed to their work and the company.