I went back to where it all began this weekend.
On Saturday morning, I headed back to the prestigious language institute Regina Coeli (de nonnetjes van Vught) for a retirement party for a beloved former colleague and friend.
I was hired by Coeli in February of 1991, when I was still working in Prague (as the first native English speaker to teach at the first privatised language academy there) but I knew I had to find a job in the Netherlands in order to start a future with my hot Dutch boyfriend. (We are married now, so I call him my ex-boyfriend. It sounds much sexier that way.) I took a bus from Prague to Amsterdam on a blistery cold day in February, where my honey picked me up (with flowers!). My interview was the next day. I was so nervous as I was the youngest teacher they would have, but I talked about my passion for teaching and what it was like being the first English teacher in Prague at the age of 21. I was thrilled to find out later that I had been hired! My future was set.
I finished my year in Prague, then came to the Netherlands on a Friday, knowing only 2 people – the person who hired me and my hot Dutch boyfriend. I started work the next Monday, and a few weeks later, I had 10 hours of Dutch lessons. OMG I would never learn this crazy language! Or so I thought.
I tried really hard to get the Czech out of my head (fast!) and get the Dutch in (even faster). If I didn’t know the word in Dutch, I would automatically ask for it in Czech. So amazing how your brain works. It’s like my brain took the first word that was on the top shelf and that word for some reason was never in English. My brain was thinking ‘foreign word, foreign word…’ and so I asked ‘Mag ik wat…um… chleb?’ at the bakers. Thank god I could laugh at my mistakes. (The ones that didn’t make me cry of embarrassment. But we will save that for another time.)
I laughed a lot and learned a lot.
I did everything from founding the Evening Program and designing new communication activities, to teaching, making the schedule (I sucked at that) and working in the Language Lab. It was great.
But after 11 years I felt called to follow my heart.
That tiny voice in me started as a whisper and got bigger and bigger. I had a deep and powerful need to do things my own way, on my own terms. I decided, just after my daughter was born, to leave.
Everyone thought I was crazy.
I left to start something that did not exist.
No one had ever heard of a Personal English Coach before.
But I did. I heard of it in my heart.
And so I left.
The rest is history.
And this weekend, I went back to my first employer in the Netherlands. I laughed and hugged my old colleagues. I cried when we talked of our memories and all that has happened in the 18 years since my departure. I even saw that my books and my Talk Nerdy To Me card game were used in their English lessons! Honored!
I’m so grateful that this wonderful institute took me on and gave me an excellent start in language education in the Netherlands.
And I’m so grateful that they let me go.
Do you have a little voice inside you that is telling you something?
If you hear it, honor it.
PS: If you’d like to spend 8 weeks with me with personal coaching, online learning and a private masterclass, please fill in your intake form today for Great in 8 – my new coaching program. We are nearly sold out and I don’t want you to miss your chance! It’s the only time I’ll be doing this for the rest of the year!
Taken in the lobby of Regina Coeli after a day full of hugs and happy memories.