My husband Vlada and I set up a private business 8 years ago. Being language professors, we decided to open a language school.
We started the School with the idea to make it special, unique, to create an atmosphere different from the one usual for a facility like this – resistance towards studying, displeasure, uncomfortable anticipation of the professor calling out your name to answer his questions. I mean, we enroll students who have fears from their previous schools, who sometimes say they’d only studied the grammar but don’t know a word of English, so we came to a decision to relax them as much as possible so they could start speaking the foreign language more easily. As a result, an idea emerged that in every class we serve free drinks to our students – tea, coffee and juices – let’s make them feel at home. I must admit I was against it at first because this meant extra expenses, more work, washing-up after the classes, which finish at 10 p.m… but, Vlada looked much further into the future and it turned out that this idea did pay off. And I don’t mean only financially. When I say it paid off, first I have in mind the pleasure we all have in classes, both students and us teachers. The anticipation is there, but it’s the good kind of anticipation, meaning that Our Vlada will emerge at the classroom door and say his famous line: „Anyone wants something hot?“ (He brings hot tea and coffee of your desire, while the juices are served outside the classrooms in the school hall).
And this goes on every day… That’s exactly how it was on St. Valentine’s Day this February. As this is a very charming, noble holiday of the western cultures, whose languages we teach, I decided to present a bit of history of the 14th February so my students and I would have a really nice chat about customs, meaning and ways of celebrating St. Valentine’s.
The class was supposed to start at 8.30 p.m. Only Dana appeared at the door, no one else was there yet. In this group I have 6 students, they have been coming to classes for almost 4 months so we knew each other very well. I went to the teacher’s room to take my books and on the way I thought to myself: „Maybe nobody else will show up, it is a holiday today after all, most of the students in this group are girls, they’re probably having a romantic dinner with their sweetheart, who they would, naturally, rather spend their Valentine with than with me!“ Anyway, when I got into the classroom, I saw Lena and Kathy arrived as well. Oh, good, we will have a nice lesson after all… 🙂
We chatted about the holiday traditions, usual gifts, first loves and problems between parents and children, especially teenagers. At some point Dana said she got married very young, she had her daughter at 18 , and I took my cue from her by saying that my mother-in-law had Vlada at 17. And, oh, what a surprise! The teacher has a mother-in-law! The teacher is… married?! Vlada? Vlada who?! (not all of our students know that Vlada and I are married, especially those who attend classes with other teachers; some speculate occasionally: „Vlada’s wife? No, no, it’s not the brunette, it’s that blond one, you know!“ „Oh, no, it’s that little one with dark hair!“ „It can’t be her! Are you sure?“)
I saw the expression of miscommunication on Lena and Kathy’s faces and I said in English: „You know Vlada is my husband, don’t you?“ And in that moment, with a flabbergasted look on her face, with her eyes widely open, completely out loud, turning her head in the door direction, Kathy shouted: „Who? You mean, OUR Vlada?!“
A moment of silent astonishment, and then… all four of us cracked up laughing! I barely spoke through tears and laughter: „YOUR Vlada?! Wait a minute, that’s MY Vlada!!!“ :))) The classroom echoed to the roof itself! We laughed our heads off, tears were wiped off of our cheeks, the cry was heard all over the school through the closed door, this moment lasted for ever!
This burst of laughter carried on for some time, perhaps as long as about 4-5 minutes, and when we all finally came to our senses and forced ourselves to get our facial muscles into their initial position, I thought to myself: „Well, if he is truly THEIR Vlada, than we succeeded more than we ever hoped for…“