It’s really strange how you can connect with some people for some intangible reason, and later that connection proves to be a most fortunate and happy one.
Seven years ago when I left the day job and was able to write full-time I had the flexibility to do other things. A friend had started a class for people whose first language wasn’t English and knowing that E2L as it was then had been my subject when I was teaching, she asked me to come along. I gladly did and stayed for five years, eventual leading the group.
When I first started ‘working’ (it was too much fun to be really classed as work, and it was voluntary as well) most of the ‘students’ were women, and most were from Bangladesh and Pakistan, and another group of Chinese speakers from various differ countries. It became a tradition early on to have home-made cakes, traditional ones, at coffee break – my featured image is of an Easter Simnel cake and some choux buns made by one of the clever students!
As the years went by, the class changed in composition; people from other European countries, including a big contingent from Spain joined us, many people from Eastern Europe and assorted other lovely folk from every continent around the world (except Anatarctica) I think there were well over a hundred different countries represented by our friends, goodness knows how many different languages, men and women of all ages and abilities.
What I didn’t really anticipate was that I made so many friends among the ‘students’, friends who I had separate friendships outside the class; most of them have returned to their own countries, but I’m still in touch with people in Spain and Venezuela.
Not long after the class started a young woman joined us; she was very keen to improve her English which to be honest wasn’t that good – however, she spoke two other languages as well as her own mother-tongue and I was sure she would soon improve her English. She was one of those people who even though we could only communicate in a fairly simple way we became friends. She’s a very beautiful person – in appearance and in character, and very gifted – a wonderful cook and very good at all sorts of crafts.
I was writing my first Radwinter novel, and I needed some Ukrainian conversation, and she very kindly helped me so that what my characters were saying was correct. She got a job and wasn’t able to come as often but we kept in occasional touch. I left the class – there was something which clashed with the time, and also I was beginning to feel that someone else needed to take over and reinvigorate the lessons… I think I was becoming a bit stale and boring.
I had an unexpected meeting with my friend at a service station on the M4; we had stopped for coffee after dropping one of our children off to fly somewhere from Heathrow, and lo and behold my friend had dropped her daughter off! We had a hug and I introduced her to my husband and she introduced me to her younger daughter. It was lovely to see her again, even though it was so brief.
Several weeks ago, she got in touch asking if I knew anyone who could help with some English coaching for someone – and of course I was delighted to volunteer. The circle came round and I was teaching English again, although in a very different way – one to one and supplied with tea, biscuits and cakes. Her English is good now and we can chat much more easily – we always had a bond, and now after she helped me with Ukrainian I’m helping someone for her.
I am sure now that we have reconnected again we will stay in much closer touch. Life is mysterious and good!
Here is a link to my Radwinter books… I think in the next but one story, I will be asking my friend for help with Ukrainian again!