WHEN it comes to life experiences, Lana Briton has seen more than most.

From growing up in Ukraine, studying and working in Russia, and then eventually ending up in Durham, she is now helping others to benefit from as many different cultures as she has.

Lana began working as a history lecturer at the University of Saratov in Russia, but soon realised it wasn’t for her.

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“I found the academic world was a bit narrow for me and only focused in one area, which didn’t suit my character - I was just saying the same thing all the time.”

But after arriving in the UK, the educational route would be something she would soon revisit, not before she learned how to make spectacles at an eye-clinic.

“I counted every minute until the end of the day” said Ms Briton.

“That was an eye opening experience and I concluded that looking after people must be the first priority of any business, if you want a loyal, reliable team with a high productivity.”

So, with the help of a group of other experienced teachers, Lana founded and became managing director at Most Education.

The non-profit organisation, which was established in 2009, creates school partnerships between students and teachers from the North-East and around the world.

The students, mostly from China, Russia and Germany, stay with English families during their visit and English students from the North-East undertake exchange visits in those countries, again staying with families and experiencing life at overseas schools.

“People thought I was stupid and they told me nobody would want to touch this hot potato with humans.

“I am proud that it has gone from strength to strength.”

Lana is quick to point out the endless benefits of students leaving their parents and taking a trip overseas.

“If a child goes on a foreign exchange trip, they lose their status and they are out of their comfort zone.

“When you take English children to Moscow or St Petersburg, it is life changing– it opens the box for them - they fall in love with either Russian hospitality or the hardworking culture of the Chinese.”

And she believes the North-East is a great place for foreign students to gain an understanding of the British way of life.

“We have been able to promote the region worldwide.

“The knowledge of the international world is very limited in the North-East - it is like a parallel universe, but for all its mistakes, it is very good at presenting itself for being English.

“When the students come here, they don’t want to see multiculturalism, they want to see the way British people act and what they eat.”

For someone who was born in Eastern Europe and went on to build a successful career in the UK, has Most Education benefited from Lana’s own experiences?

“That is absolutely correct. You are the best at something that you have experienced for yourself.

"When I arrived in England, having left everything back in the Ukraine, I wanted to be someone and not be dependent on anyone - you need to establish yourself in society and I wanted to develop a business.

“This could only be achieved by integrating myself fully with the local people, so I really encouraged myself to be part of the British way of life and try and understand the jokes - it was a phenomenal learning experience.

“I first started by doing volunteer work. I wasn’t expecting to get paid, I was just grateful for the opportunity and it was a fantastic feeling to be trusted to deal with customers and handle money.”

With the continuing worldwide coverage of the refugee crisis, Lana has experienced questions herself about what brought her to the UK, but insists she has not received any “racist comments.”

“I am not a refugee. People have a very one sided view, they always ask if I came here for a job or as a refugee.

“I tell them I am the third type of person, it was a personal accident.”

But in her role, Lana can keep out of the politics.

“My main business activity is to break barriers between people, open the world of opportunities and help the local UK youngsters to gain more confidence and increase their employability chances in the competitive world.”

Five minutes with Lana Briton….

Favourite North-East building and why?

Durham Cathedral. It is so stunning and powerful. I always imagine how it must have affected the people at the time it was built considering the size of it. It is simply spectacular when you see it light up and illuminated.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid?

My first job in Russia was an Apprentice Lecturer of History at the University of Saratov, pay was next to nothing, this job was desirable for its’ status and future career development. When I settled in the UK I had to start from scratch again and was delighted to get my first UK job as a Support assistant in Durham News agency shop for £4 an hour.

What is the worst job you've had?

My first “proper” job at the ex-Eye Clinic in Newcastle, where I learned how to make spectacles. I was the only one non-English, although, staff were nice, but working conditions were awful, staff had to stand on their feet for 8 hours What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? My speciality, which proved quite popular amongst our English friends, is Ukrainian dishes, “solyanka” and “plov”.

What would your superpower be?

To stop wars and those who create them.

Name three people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party.

My family, friends and our international students.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much?

Caribbean holidays for my family - In my opinion, the best investment is in international travel and the experience of meeting new friends.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why?

My educational partners as I am always interested in their updates & success.

Favourite book?

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome - its jokes seem fresh and witty even today.

What is your greatest achievement?

To have brought up my son to be a confident, open-minded, successful adult.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given?

Never give up.

Favourite animal and why? Dogs for their unconditional loyalty.

Who was the last artist you saw live?

Brian Adams Describe your perfect night in. A quality spa followed by a meal with my husband and son.

In another life I would be...?

Teacher & International Entrepreneur Who would play you in a film of your life? Meryl Streep What irritates you? Jealousy, backstabbing and ignorance.

What's your secret talent?

To deliver everything till completed.