Since 1993, LaRose has worked as a Russian language translator. Her work has brought to Russia and around the U.S. to help clients.
When Irina LaRose and her family came to the United States from the then-Soviet Union in 1976, her mother brought Russian language literature textbooks with her.
LaRose’s mother was a Russian language literature teacher and was hopeful she could teach the subject in the United States after their move from what is now Ukraine.
While she didn’t end up using the books for her teaching career, she used them to tutor LaRose, who was in first grade when they moved. LaRose’s mother tutored her until she was in middle school.
As time went on, LaRose went off to college and her mother began teaching Russian at the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus. When the Soviet Union broke up, her mother began getting calls asking if any of her students could work as translators.
She told them “they barely know how to say my name and count to 10, but my daughter is fluent.”
Starting in 1993, LaRose has worked as a translator and owns her own business, Russian Language Communications.
LaRose majored in communications and really wanted to go into public relations, marketing or advertising, but then she started translating.
In the beginning, LaRose did translation as freelance work, and a woman she babysat for suggested she register a sole proprietorship and helped with coming up with a company name and design of business cards and a letterhead.
LaRose is the only full-time employee for her business. She uses contractors when needed, such as when she has two jobs in two places. While she is based in Florida and works at Design 2000 on Longboat Key, she does still do work in St. Louis and other cities.
Often, she is asked to help translate documents, such as birth certificates and marriage licenses, but she does on-site translations too. Her on-site work can range from going to doctors appointments with clients to visiting St. Louis with a group of visiting Russian journalists to learn how the press covers certain topics, which she did in March.
She’s also traveled to Russia before with clients.
“Everyday is a learning experience, and it’s immediately rewarding, and it’s so fun,” LaRose said. “It’s like when I’m doing these groups, you never know what’s happening. It’s challenging, and it’s interesting and rewarding.”
LaRose said she gets immediate satisfaction from helping people as a translator. Clients will say “we understood what they said!” or in terms of the journalists she helped: “oh my gosh, we understand what Freedom of the Press in the U.S really means and its laws.”
From working with Boeing to visiting agriculture businesses and hog and beef producers, her work has introduced her to all types of people with various backgrounds, which is something she loves.
When she first started translating, she often was on trips that involved people who had never met someone from Russia. Over time, she has seen stereotypes be broken down, but
the work has also highlighted differences between America and Russia. One of those differences came from working with a Russian group in cancer care.
“I just learned about different types of things we do for various cancers and what limited resources they have to work on different cancers, and it’s fascinating,” she said.
But she has seen those differences be put aside.
“If I had to sum it all up, every time I do this, people still walk away from every experience saying ‘we’re so alike, Russians and Americans’ …”