When I remember myself as a little child, I always remember a rather quirky child that disliked pink, princesses and fairy tales, and toys – instead, I love reading, as I could read from a very young age. I was also an absolute klutz when it came to anything graceful, like ballet. I disliked being in big crowds.
I loved another thing along with reading: listening to “real” stories.
I was and I am very fortunate to have someone in my life who taught me that I was not weird, and he taught me so much more. He has nothing to do with ELT. Most of his working life was spent in restaurants, in gruelling schedules, either as waiter, chef, owner, or all three together. He is my first teacher and a huge part of who and what I am is thanks to him. He is my dad.
Despite his very long working hours, sometimes working 16-17 hours or more (he has always gone with little sleep which is something I have also got from him), he was always there for me, either on the phone, in the morning or at night. What have I learned from him? Numerous things, but I will mention a few:
- No matter what you do in your life and how far you get, you are equal to everyone else and never forget where you come from. I always saw this in the interaction with his customers, the good ones, the difficult ones. He treated everyone the same and had a joke and a smile for everyone.
- You always need to be polite and not load other people with your bad mood. You can talk about that with people close to you. He also told us that you know when a person is genuine and kind by how they treat waiters and children :)
- Pay attention in school, but also outside school. You can learn from anyone, anywhere.
- He told me real stories. Even though I was only 11 at the time, he told me about the Berlin Wall. He told me about the war in Vietnam. He introduced me to people like Martin Luther King and Neil Armstrong.
- The first movie I watched with him was…Rocky! Still one of my favourites. “Now what’s the message? Not that I want you going out there punching everyone…but see how much he tried for what he wanted?”
- He showed me a love of reading. He was and is always reading something, be it a book, newspaper or on his tablet – at 69 years old! He always loves talking about what he is reading. Now that I live far away from him, we still do this over Skype! He always starts like this: “Hey Vicky, listen to this…I read…”
Thank you Dad for all you are and all you teach me and have taught me. I am so grateful for every single day.