My husband & I first got to know each other through serving Ukrainian orphaned kids. When we got married in 2001, he started to work at a public school as an English teacher for those orphans & I came to his classroom as an assistant. It was fun, but his salary could only cover our garage rent. We had to get creative to survive, so we started to work as interpreters with American missionary groups, coming to Ukraine. Three weeks out of a month, we worked at school & one week, we traveled to different locations to help American missionaries.
We met many amazing people through this funky business scheme! We not only helped them to understand Ukrainians but also learned a lot from them about American people & culture. I personally enjoyed it very much since we were kind of a bridge between two polar cultures: post-Soviet Ukraine & free democratic America. Our job was not only about helping with the language differences but about communicating the deeper meaning of things behind words. What one says does not necessarily equal what one means. I know it sounds complicated because it actually is.
Our work then helped us to make some very good lasting friendships, and when we came to visit the United States in 2009, we were able to go to so many States precisely because of our friends who wanted to see us & show us their country in return to our hospitality to them back in Ukraine! When we came back to the US in 2014, we did not have the problem that most newcomers have: we were fluent in the English language, and we also were not foreign to the American culture, which was a huge benefit!