Of the many training courses I have had abroad, the one recently held in Norwich, UK is exceptional . What made it exceptional is my host family; Juyna and Charles Lewis.
Juyna is an ex lecturer of English and now is a Complementary Therapist and Charles is a lecturer. They both like reading, walking, Arts and meeting people from other cultures.
On May 14, 2013 at 6 pm, both Juyna and Charles were waiting for me. They warmly welcomed me, introduced themselves and so did I. Juyna showed me my room. I liked the idea of having different kinds of books in my bedroom. The two books that grabbed my attention are ‘Develop Your Assertiveness’ by Sue Bishop and ‘Instant Confidence’ by Paul McKenna.
During dinner, we enjoyed getting to know each other and learning about each other’s children. I liked Juyna’s friendly way of asking questions to ‘test the water’. Of course I opened communication and gave ‘the green light’ to continue asking questions to establish common ground. In fact, we made each other feel comfortable. They appreciated my gift which inculdes a beautiful painting representing Algiers, Constatntine and Oran, and ... the exquisite, delicate sand rose of the Algerian Sahara. TheyThen, Charles invited me to spend the evening at The Theatre Royal where a concert by Mariza, a Portuguese fado singer, was programmed as one of the events of Norfolk and Norwich Festival. With her splendid voice, dramatic gestures and melancholic music, Mariza seduced the audience. That was one of the best voices I had ever heard.
In the morning, I walked with Juyna to NILE. From Christchurch Road to Unthank Road, we discussed the meaning of ‘assertiveness’ and exchanged ideas about the two chapters I had already read. Then we had a stop at Roman Catholic Cathedral where Juyna explained to me things I ignored. Ten minutes later, we walked over the footbridge into Upper St Giles Street before we arrived at NILE.
In the evening, after a delicious Indian dinner prepared by Juyna, Charles suggested to go to a concert by Kayhan Kahlor at St Peter Mancroft Church. The concert was splendid. Kahlor made me discover his exhilarating music while playing the Kamancheh. Kahlor captivated our mind and soul by his soothing and relaxing Persian music.
Once home, kind Charles offered me a book to read: ‘Nelson, the Norfolk Hero’ by Charles Lewis. I could not believe that the author of the book is Charles, my host! The book is about Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), the Norfolk hero. The author, Charles Lewis, focuses on the country of his birth, family, sea battle, attachment of Nelson to Norfolk as well as monuments dedicated to his honour.
Early next morning while having breakfast we discussed a lot about Nelson’s family, Nelson the sailor and his battle with the French … I thanked Charles for giving me the opportunity to know about Nelson and congratulated him on the book he published. Then we talked about the weather while Juyna was preparing cakes; about four or five cakes for the needy. Juyna seems to be very active and helpful. When leaving home to NILE, Charles hurried up, brought an umbrella and handed it to me saying, ‘it’s raining outside, Mustapha.’ What a thoughtful and generous family!
Juyna and Charles are so organized that they always had new plans to make me discover Norwich places of interests as well as the British culture and lifestyle. We discussed a lot about the Algerian culture, languages, religion and issues like marriage, women in education, neighbours’ relationships and children-parents’ relationships… We also discussed the latest news in England and the Middle-East. Amazing! We shared our differences and agreements on the topics we discussed, but equality, justice, respect, tolerance and peace had been our key consideration to the world conflicts.
On May 18, after a wonderful Japanese meal, we went to Norwich Castle (1067-1121) which used to be a prison for 5oo years is now Norfolk’s principal museum. I was impressed by the inside architecture, the collection of paintings and ceramic teapots. I thanked Juyna and Charles for their invaluable explanation for each place we visited. Norwich Castle is so beautiful that is worth a visit!
On May 20 once back from a visit to Reepham High School, I was so tired that I was thinking of having a shower and a nap. However, Juyna who had prepared a special Lemon Drizzle Cake for me, invited me for a cup of tea. The cake was delicious. Juyna asked me questions about my visit to Reepham in an open manner. Then she listened to me attentively and showed a genuine interest mainly when I talked about the OFSTED inspectors who visited the school too!
Half an hour later, we went to the allotment- Bluebell South, an amazing green space shared by the neighbourhood community. It is used mainly for growing fruit and vegetables for household. Allotment holders can also have fresh eggs if they keep hens! More importantly, allotment-bluebell allows holders to get in touch with each other as well as with the green world. After having the chance to taste Juyna’s wonderful cooking of a Chinese dish, Charles drove us to the university of East Anglia and Norwich Stadium with its beautiful canary’s colours.
On May 21, I spent an hour at The Forum, a beautiful place in the city centre which serves as a cultural and recreational amenity for Norwich and Norfork. Then I met Juyna and Charles who planned to visit the restored Dragon Hall c. 1430 which used to be a trading hall. After that, we visited Wensum Lodge and I appreciated the projects realized by the students. Deep under Wensum Lodge lies a magnificent subterranean space named Junet’s bar, a very calm place with its amazing architecture. Having a cup of tea in this magic place is a moment we never forget. Finally, under a light rain, we had had a stroll along the river before we drove back home.
Last but not least, just after the end course dinner offered by NILE, I joined Juyna and Charles and drove to Anna Robinson’s house. Anna is a Professor at the University of East Anglia. Her husband is fond of gardening. We visited his garden with a variety of fruits and vegetables and got very interesting information about every fruit and vegetable. Then Anna offered us a cup of tea and wanted to know more about my stay in Norwich. The focus of our discussion was on education and the OFSTED inspection. We spent a couple of hours and learned so much from each other.
On Tuesday, May 25th, 2013, I had breakfast with Juyna and Charles. It was hard for us to start a conversation as it was my last day in Norwich, my last day with Juyna and Charles who treated me as a member of their family. Juyna broke the silent atmosphere and said, ‘Mustapha, this is a cake for your family and this is a gift for you that you open when you are at home, in Algeria.’ I thanked them for everything. When the taxi driver knocked at the door, Charles hurried up, brought a camera and I took two photos; one with Juyna and one with him.
You cannot imagine our sadness to leave each other. They had been so considerate, caring and respectful that I felt a deep pain in my chest. I had nothing to do but hugged and kissed them both. Juyna helped with my luggage though it was raining and cold outside. I still see her waving when the taxi was leaving Christchurch Road to Heathrow Airport.
Late in the evening when I arrived home, I opened the gift. It was a book ‘ Norwich 12- A Journey Through the English City’ in which Juyna and Charles left a note saying, ‘ Mustapha, we hope you will be able to come back and see all you missed this time. Best wishes.’
Inspector of National Education, Oran, Algeria.
ELT@lgeria Web founder: www.eltalgeria.webs.com
- I am really impressed by the way you described your host family with every minute detail . I do like it very much ,really impressive , thanks for sharing this unique experience... you remind me of mine which was also amazing and enriching . thanks for posting.
Inspector of Middle Schools,
- Dear Sir
- Thank you Mr. Louznadji for sharing with us your trip and your memorable stay with this family. You have shown that whatever the nationalities and religions are, the human side knows no frontiers!
I would like to thank you for sharing your precious experience with us all. You described it so well that I felt being there. It is really amazing as an experience. I wish I could read the book you are speaking about, it seems interesting.
Thank you once more and I hope to hear other adventurous of yours.
Best of Lucks
Story Teller, Algiers.
Thanks a lot for such an inspiring story.
True as it is, it took me in a wonderful trip to UK.
True as it is, it gave me a nice view behind the Lewis'door.
True as it is , it reminded me of so many books I read in British literature.
Every detail grabbed my attention.
I visited the places you mentioned.
I learned about a new book and a new author.
Juyna's choice of the selected books in your bedroom, great directions.
I even learned a new recipe.
Really, an intercultural exchange lesson.
So inspiring that I will use the story as an authentic material in my leson plans next year.
Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful experience.
High School Teacher.
Oran , Algeria.
Thank you so much for making us share this exciting experience with you !i really feel as if visiting every space and living the event with you and this kind and friendly family!
High School Teacher,
Annaba , Algeria.
Thank you very much for sharing such an amazing expereince It's really wonderful.
High School Teacher of French Language,
Thanks a lot for telling us about your own experience there.It seems amazing.My stay there, was just the same.I had the opportunity to 'fall into the real pool' living with and talking to the British .Hope this won't be the last.
That's great to hear this, I also had such an experience with my host family in the Leopold road in Norwich during the second half of April .
Thank you Loudzndji for reminding us of those unforgettable days.
Thank you so much for your very kind comments Mustapha.. Charles and I did enjoy your company very much & it was a real delight to host you. Please do pay us a visit if you visit England again and we can continue our very varied discussions!!. We're with our son in Korea at the moment and finding out how the Korean way of life works. He's a teacher too and so it's interesting to see how the education system operates here..
With best wishes,
Juyna & Charles
I would like to thank you for sharing this amazing experience.
While reading your marvellous description, I really felt being there.
So thank you once more for sharing that interesting trip.
High School teacher,
Frankly speaking your story stunned me. I really believe what you tell about your hosts. This is human nature. One cannot generalise what he experienced with others. My experience with host families is a very awful one. I really lacked the warm friendly atmosphere that you have had with your own one. The idea of host families is a good one .It is the host persons that will make it a positive experience or a negative one.
I read your experience with your hosts in Norwich . It is the same as mine with Rosie Rogers , her daughter Helena and husband Lezcek not far from your stay and just on Leopold road two streets from your host home ( group 3 ).
Oum Elbouaghi, Algeria
First , my wide thank you for giving us this warm amazing and interesting experience . Secondly , I candidly envy you
Mr Mustapha . Would you , please , help me to gain an experience like yours ?
May the ALMIGHTY protect you for all the Educators at the various subjects not only at English field .
All my best wishes .
Inspector of National Education
nSalah Tidikelt W. Tamanrasset, Algeria
Thank you sir for giving us the opportunity to know about your exceptional experience with your host family in Norwich . We keep learning from you more and more... day after day .
High School Teacher
Congratulations to you Mustapha and to all the colleagues who had this invaluable opprtunity of a pedagogical stay within a British family in Britain..In fact, your account is quite touching and instructive.
I just hope that the decision makers will remake this experience with us, the other high school inspectors who are left behind.
Inspector of National Education
Hi everybody ! I'm amongst those lucky and privileged guys who beneficiated from this incredible experience and we should be very grateful to the Ministry of Education first then to the British Council for having made us live this experience. Your homestay M.Louznadji is nothing but super amazing. You just reminded me of mine : A PURE ANGEL. I lived ten unforgettable days in heaven and I advice everyone to experience it at least once in a lifetime.My best wishes for everyone.
Aoulef, Adrar, Algeria.
Your way of telling us your impressive and amazing experience made me feel watching a movie. I really lived it. I wish it had been longer.Anyway, great thanks for thinking of sharing with us your experience and I hope that you will have another training.
High School Teacher,
Dear Mr Louznadji,
What a memorable and interesting experience you had in UK!
Thank you for sharing your precious moments and time as if we were with you !!!
It reminded me of the UK and the nice and kind people over there!!! Just remember the time!!!!!!
You always share with us your findings!
What a generous person you are my dearest friend!
Best regards to your hosts!!!!
Miss Setra Baka
Pasteur High School