My colleagues at the Lewis School
The English Foreign Language (EFL) industry is full of people with fascinating stories. People are usually drawn to this world as a result of their passion for traveling and their desire to understand other cultures.
As I’ve got to know my colleagues at the Lewis School of English, it has become evident that many of them have an abundance of stories, experiences and adventures to share.
Tales of the incredible places they’ve visited, the amazing sights they’ve seen and the great long-distance love affairs. Their words paint a picture of a world with dizzying highs and desperate lows. Lives lived as a rootless existence, moving to wherever the wind blows.
For this reason, I wish to share with you a few of the stories and memories of the wonderful, open people who make up the staff of the School. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to set off on your own adventure and create some beautiful, unique stories of your own.
Suzie and Michelle
As you walk through the doors at the Lewis School of English, you will be greeted by the smiling faces of the lovely Suzie and Michelle on reception. These two women are the first point of call for any requests, questions or worries of the students. With a combined 17 years working at the school, there is very little that Michelle and Suzie don’t know about school life.
What do they do?
Suzie and Michelle’s roles involve all aspects of welfare and administration. They help the students out with the practical issues that they face moving to the UK; opening bank accounts, finding a doctor, registering with the police and booking accommodation.
They also keep an eye out for the emotional well-being of the students. They’re always there to check if the students are doing okay and, if they are unhappy, Suzie and Michelle do their best to find a solution.
From South Africa, to Spain, to Kansas, to Southampton
Suzie’s story starts in South Africa. When she was 15 years old Suzie’s father, who was unhappy with the political system in South Africa at the time, packed up their whole lives and moved the family to Spain.
Suzie spent a very enjoyable year in Spain, making the most of the fun and freedom of the Spanish lifestyle. In comparison to the strict and regimented schools in her homeland, the English school she attended in Spain was very relaxed. Suzie has particularly fond memories of going to the bar before school to get a hot chocolate.
After a year in Spain, Suzie had got as far as she could with her schooling there and her parents were left not quite knowing what to do with her. Luckily some American friends of the family suggested she could spend a year in the USA. Through a church scheme, she was sponsored to live in the Midwestern state of Kansas, which according to Suzie was all “cows and corn”.
Suzie spent a year in Kansas, which although very different to Spain, had been equally as enjoyable. Suzie then re-joined her family, who by this point had moved to the UK. She had been dreading the miserable British weather but had the fortune to arrive in the middle of a heat wave. Suzie, therefore, felt quite at home in the second hottest British summer since records began.
Suzie moved to Hampshire and has been living in the area ever since. She lives in a large village outside of Southampton, which she likes for its quiet, safe and friendly feel. She appreciates the diversity of Southampton and the fact that it’s small enough to walk everywhere but big enough that there is always plenty to do and see.
From the US, to Kuwait, to the UAE, to Thailand, to Southampton
Michelle also began her travelling at a young age. Both her step-father and mother had jobs which took them around the world and Michelle would go out to join them for holidays. In particular, she got to see lots of different places in the US.
Her father was a policeman and due to his job the family moved around the UK a lot. Michelle, therefore, never had the feeling of putting down roots. This meant that as an adult, Michelle was more than happy to live all over the world with her husband who works for the British military.
She lived for two years in Kuwait, nine years in the UAE and even bought a house in Thailand. Out of all of these countries, Michelle enjoyed living in Thailand the most, for the fun, relaxed lifestyle and the great weather.
Nowadays, Michelle is happy to call Southampton her home. It’s the city where her husband was born and Michelle was born nearby. She is a proud Sotonian and an avid supporter of the local football team “the Saints”. She also loves Southampton’s rich history.
Favourite Part of the job
For Suzie, the favourite part of her job is meeting the students and getting to learn about new cultures. Her experiences of moving countries at such a young age allow Suzie to be particularly empathetic with the students here at the school. She truly understands the difficulties as well as the joy of living in a culture that is different to your own.
Michelle also enjoys interacting with the students, particularly joking with them. She loves seeing their language improve, particularly to the point where they can understand her humour. The students love asking Michelle questions, my favourite of which, is why on earth she would support Southampton’s football team when she could support a good one like Manchester United. The response to this one is always particularly amusing.
Advice to Students
Suzie’s top advice to students at the Lewis School of English is to try and keep an open mind and to give new things a go, such as trying new foods or going to new places.
Michelle advises students that they have to be willing to put in the effort to learn. The students can make huge progress with their English skills but it won’t just happen on its own. If students want to improve they have to try.
Suzie and Michelle are two great examples of the rich and fascinating tapestry of people that make up the staff at the Lewis School. Michelle and Suzie are the face of the Lewis School. They are warm, friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. The students know they can trust the advice of these two and therefore often seek it out.