Respecting my elders


This week was rough. I was feeling all the feelings, and pretty much none of them were nice. Tired and grumpy and kind of just….sad. But I don’t want to talk about that. It’s not important.


The best part of my week was hanging out with my student in the afternoon, J. Lately, I’ve had lots of private lessons (which can be pretty intense and at the same time kind of boring for me as the teacher, if I’m being honest here) and my afternoons this work were spent with a charming German man in his 70s. His SEVENTIES! How can you not respect someone like that, leaving his country for a week all by his lonesome to enrol in a foreign language school, staying with a host family? Learning just to learn, to be better and work on his ability to communicate, because he respects “that English is a global language” (as he told me in his own words).

Thursday after we finished our lesson he asked if I had any plans and if I would like to go get a coffee with him. And I just couldn’t say no. Why would I? And it was probably the best hour or two of my life in recent memory. We took a little stroll around Brighton and I tried to show him some parts of the city that he hadn’t seen yet. He let me treat him to my favorite frozen yogurt stand, Lick’s, and eventually we sat at a cafe and drank our tea. The sun was shining and it was just all so pleasant, I couldn’t stop smiling. I listened intently to everything he wanted to tell me, and responded in kind.

He has such great stories. He used to be a ship’s captain, and he’s travelled all over the world. He dropped out of school at 16 to join a ship, but eventually worked for the government while becoming fluent in English (he is definitely advanced, and our lessons were more conversation with me teaching him a few things here and there when I could). Now he works voluntary at a shipping organization in Germany. He and his wife have been married for 46 years and the stories of their life together, their children and grandchildren, and how much living he’s still doing at his age (he’s in a “sporting club” back in Hamburg where they run laps around a track and do gymnastics and go swimming! Elderly athletes, be still my heart!). He is passionate about using all the time that he has, learning and living and seeing and doing. And I am so grateful that I got to spend a week of my life facilitating that, and absorbing all his good vibes, and hanging out with this amazing man. I’ll miss him.

3 thoughts on “Respecting my elders”

  1. Hi! I came to your blog through your expat interview – I am a Brit living in Germany. I’m a Japanese translator right now but have been an English teacher in both Japan and back home in Cambridge and reading this really made me miss teaching. You get to meet so many amazing people.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

    1. Hi Charlotte, thanks for stopping by! Sounds like you are having some amazing adventures of your own-I’ve been meaning to make my way over to Germany and it has yet to happen. Someday soon! And you’re a Japanese translator?? That’s amazing!

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